There is no medium more significant than the one of cinema. Cinema can move us in fashions; very few mediums can. From hateful rage towards a film we despise to overwhelming praise for a movie we admire, there are very few films that can leave cinephiles without thought or opinion. So now, what happens when you take that power of cinema and create a satisfying satire that captures those feelings? You get Official Competition, a downright hilarious transport into the world of film, directors, and actors.
Official Competition opens with pharma CEO Humberto Suárez who wants to leave a legacy before passing. What better way to leave a legacy than by producing a film. There is a feeling for Suárez that having the right talent behind the project will result in a film that cements him among the greats.
He enlists Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz) to evoke the artistic eye needed to channel his vision to reach that greatness. Cuevas is set to adapt a story of two brothers on the outs after a car accident. But who will play the two estranged brothers? Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), a man who strives to stay in the pop-culture conversations, and Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez), who is all about the art and not the fame, step in to tackle the roles.
Co-directors Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn use the rehearsal process of a film for diving into downright hilarious scenarios effectively. What could come off as repetitive is brought to life by the duo’s direction, Alain Bainée’s production, and the trio of Cruz, Antonio, and Martínez.
Mariano Cohn, Andrés Duprat, and Gastón Duprat’s screenplay examine the creative process of filmmaking and the absurdities of Hollywood fame and complexities that fall at the feet of both directors and filmmakers.
The film’s success falls on the shoulders of the trio of actors. However, to say there was a stand-out would be unfair as Cruz, Banderas and Martínez each offer a unique and effective performance that stands out on their own. They take the minimalistic backdrop of rehearsals to evoke open examinations of actor rivalries, hypocrisy, and the inappropriate behavior that sometimes occurs.
If there is a deterrent to fully loving the film it’s in the final 20 minutes. After that, Official Competition takes a turn that’s both downright shocking and incoherent regarding the overall premise Duprat and Cohn focused on throughout the majority of the run time.
Despite the underwhelming finale, Official Competition is an entry impossible not to root for. A film full of ambitions and exciting themes that never fails to keep cinephiles invested. It’s undoubtedly one of the Tribeca Festival’s unique entries thus far.