Antonio Banderas como “Félix Rivero” y Penelope Cruz como “Lola Cuevas” Competencia Oficial | Cortesía de Manolo Pavon. An IFC Films release.
Official Competition is the story of the attempt to create cinema’s next masterpiece. Millionaire Humbero Suarez (Jose Luis Gomez) has concerns about his legacy. He muses that he could build a bridge or, better yet, he could produce a great film. With the latter idea more enticing, he buys the rights to an acclaimed Nobel Prize winning novel called Rivalry and enlists the help of eccentric director Lola Cuevas (Penelope Cruz). Cuevas, known in the industry for her unusual methods and unbridled creativity, brings together two of the greatest living actors who have yet to share the screen. First is Ivan Torres (Oscar Martinez): a classically trained thespian who shuns the commercialization and competition inherent in the arts. His counterpart is Felix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), a renowned blockbuster movie star full of flash. Together the trio attempt to navigate each other in order to craft a new classic via an unusual, darkly comedic journey.
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What works in Official Competition are the humor, the performances, and the commentary on the creation of films. Written and directed by Gaston Duprat & Mariano Cohn (El hombre de al lado, Living Stars), Official Competition is an exaggerated (but probably not too far off) look into the extremes and lengths performers and directors will go to in order to have their vision recognized. The three leads are positively outstanding as they test each other’s limits and boundaries, fueled by ideological beliefs and philosophies. The chemistry sizzles at every turn as two stories unfold: the fate of these artistic minds, and the movie within a movie which offers its own twists, paralleling its making. The result is a fantastic satire full of wit that is engaging from beginning to end, thanks in large part to Cruz, Banderas, and Martinez putting in some of their best ever work.
People less enamored with borderline parody, or generally disinterested in the film industry, are unlikely to enjoy Official Competition. Viewers with even a mild familiarity with the world of acting and directing will find this movie more absorbing. In addition, it’s worth noting (without spoilers) that Official Competition has some dark undertones. Some of the themes and material might be distressing.
Official Competition is a wonderful farce, fueled by commanding displays of acting. While the subject matter and delivery might feel inaccessible to some, there’s still universal appeal in terms of appreciating wonderful performances. And for those well-steeped in cinema, this is an absolute delight.
You can find Official Competition in theaters starting on June 17th, and on VOD beginning on August 2nd.
Recommended if you Enjoyed: For Your Consideration, Waiting for Guffman, Wag the Dog