Venice 78: “Competencia Oficial”
In Gaston Duprat & Mariano Cohn’s previous film, The Distinguished Citizen (2016), the Nobel Prize author briefly mentions an intriguing tale of two Argentinian brothers, sharing the same woman. That story will be the “MacGuffin” of Competencia Oficial.
Shot with a hyperbolically improved cinematography, the film parodies its own industry, without being afraid to laugh at itself and its own creators. The plot revolves around the rehearsals for a film, focusing on the relationship between the two polar opposite protagonists and their director. Felix, played by Antonio Banderas, is a commercial Hollywood star with a diva attitude. On the opposite side of the ring stands Ivan, played by Oscar Martinez, a method actor, intellectual, somber, a maestro who carefully selects the festival movies he might consider dedicating his time to. Regarded as the finest players in their own fields, they are purposely chosen for their respective differences by the successful, modern and stylish director played by Penelope Cruz. As one might expect, these contrasts are the spark for the title’s Official Competition, as they challenge each other in any way they can think of, from their acting styles to the clothes they wear, and even from the way they kiss a woman. As the movie unfolds, they regress to puerile behaviours, and the notion of actors “playing” on a set was never more appropriate. One thing they really have in common: hypocrisy.
With a few faux pas among the many original gags, occasionally the satire becomes less subtle and too explositional. For instance, without sparing any possible stereotype, the Lesbian director literally destroys the actors’ prestigious awards, including golden globes, lions, palms, to tame their egos while simultaneously parodying and insulting the festival it was screening at (Venice).
The countless gags, some more successful than others, grant many giggles, and a few bigger laughs.