“Official Competition” (“Competencia oficial”)
Metacritic (9/10), Rotten Tomatoes (****+)
Oh, to be a revered film industry artist. It affords so many opportunities for meaningful creative expression – especially when one is full of oneself. So it is for a trio of collaborators – one director and two rival actors, all of whom have personal and professional agendas, styles all their own, and egos the size of the Europe – as they struggle to make a movie financed by a wealthy, 80-year-old pharmaceutical company executive who’s more concerned with the legacy that he’s leaving than producing great cinematic art. As they’re thrown together for this project, they seek fulfillment in their respective milieus, even if it means stepping on one another’s toes and pulling scams to achieve their desired ends. And, through it all, viewers are treated to the principals’ innocuous, pseudo-profound wisdom about creativity, life, humility and hubris. Writer-directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, along with screenplay colleague Andrés Duprat, have cooked up a deliciously wicked dark comedy/satire that skewers the movie industry, the arthouse film community and the festival circuit with wry, hilarious wit and sight gags, splendidly played out by Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez, all of whom turn in some of their best-ever work here. The masterfully written script delivers the goods with perfect understatement and just enough believable insincerity yet raucously nasty bits to make everything work just about perfectly. There’s a slight tendency for the pacing to drag at the outset, but, in light of everything else it offers, who cares? For those who enjoy their comedy with a sharp edge accompanied by hefty doses of unbridled comeuppance, this one is for you.