Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10), TMDB.com (3.5/5)

Isn’t it amazing how failures can often lead to unexpected successes? Those missteps frequently have a way of opening meaningful doors, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time they occur. But how readily are we aware that such developments can occur? Such is the whirlwind experience of Alejandro Martinez (Julio Torres), a young, idealistic, inventive Salvadoran toy designer who emigrates to New York in search of a job in an incubator program at a major American toy manufacturer. But, to apply for the position, he must be present stateside, which means he needs a work visa to reside here long enough to make his pitch. That possibility seems to evaporate, though, when he loses his job as a client curator at a cryogenics company. Fortunately, however, as he’s making his exit from the workplace, he meets and befriends a flamboyant art critic (Tilda Swinton) upset with the way the cryogenics company is handling the care of her late partner (RZA), an eccentric artist known for specializing in paintings of eggs. To raise funds for the painter’s curation, she wants to stage an exhibition of his work but needs help to pull it off, which is where Alejandro enters the picture. He volunteers to assist with staging the show in exchange for her sponsorship so that he can obtain a new work visa to stay in the US. It sounds like a simple, straightforward arrangement, but, as he soon finds out, that’s far from the case, as he launches into a wild and crazy odyssey filled with any number of outlandish personal and professional incidents, many of them ludicrous and comical yet surprisingly beneficial. This debut feature from actor-writer-director Torres tells an unconventional yet hilarious and insightful story of commitment, empowerment and imagination filled with colorful characters and enigmatic situations. Its clever production design, imaginative cinematography, and inclusion of surreal and symbolic sequences makes for an edgy yet entertaining watch, an impressive first offering from the former Saturday Night Live staff writer. While there are some instances where the narrative tends to become a little too outrageously self-satisfied for its own good, the bulk of the film stays on course and features an array of fine performances from Torres, Swinton and a host of supporting players. “Problemista” was originally scheduled for release in summer 2023 but was delayed by the SAG-AFTRA strike. However, as this delightfully quirky offering shows, the wait was indeed worth it, as it often is for those who encounter seemingly endless snafus on the way to achieving their greatness. If you’re fond of the irreverent, as I am, you’ll get a kick out of this one, an engaging tale that both enlightens and entertains while giving your mind a lot to play with.