Much in the same way that the last film I reviewed, Justin Reardon‘s Playing It Cool (read review here), took on its subject in a manner that can only be described as meta, Hernán Guerschuny takes a similar concept and flips it.It seems that the film world is now fertile ground for movies (frankly none of them hold a candle to Altman‘s The Player). So let’s see how this one shakes out…
Instead of screenwriter incapable of falling in love being commissioned to write a romantic comedy, we get a famous, surly film critic, Victor Tellez (Rafael Spregelburd) who is notorious for trashing every movie he sees. Day after day, he goes with a set of other critics to watch unoriginal movies that have no soul (according to him). They go to the same coffee shop afterwards to discuss further the films they have seen and then adjourn to write their respective reviews. Tellez is in an interesting place in his personal, perhaps explaining his bitterness. He has just broken up with his special ladyfriend and is in desperate need of a new apartment as the building he’s living in is undergoing construction and the hammering is driving him crazy. Add to it that his newspaper editor is on his case about how he trashes every movie and is threatening to rewrite his reviews to make the distributors happier with them, he’s got a lot on his plate. And is doesn’t get any less complicated when Sofia (the stunning Dolores Fonzi) enters his life, at first hating one another, then…falling for one another.
But can it work? She, who is at times is affectionate and others aloof and secretive clashes with his minimalist existence, filled by films and conversation and an unhealthy obsession with the women he’s seen in classic films (namely Jean Seberg in Godard‘s À bout de souffle) and using them as his standard of measure. Clearly something needs to give. But when Tellez needs some extra cash, he ventures into territory in the same vein as the likes of Godard,Truffaut and all of the other Cahiers du Cinema critics did back in the late 50s – making their own films, although in Tellez’s case, he only takes an assignment to write a script. The final complication is that he ends up writing his own life and specifically focusing on his relationship with Sofia, all of which she is unaware.Like Belmondo‘s Michel Poiccard, his goose is cooked. And worst of all…the movie sucks.
I really enjoyed this film. Where it succeeds, however, it also kind of fails. The familiar cliches that the Tellez character rants against appear in an ironic way in his own story, but they aren’t reconciled in a satisfying way, not turning them enough on their head to make a statement about them. Despite that, however, Guerschuny weaves an interesting enough tale to keep the viewer engaged. In the latter part of the second act and into the third act, the film shifts gears, somewhat jarringly, into unexpected territory in a side plot involving a disgruntled director (Ignacio Rogers) taking revenge for a bad review that Tellez wrote of his film. Somewhat out of place, the film quickly rights itself and gets back on its proper trajectory with somewhat surprising results. Dolores Fonzi is really quite angelic in this film and is expertly cast in the mysterious role of Sofia. Likewise, Spregelburd fits his role as the bearded, overly pretentious film critic to a T. They have wonderful chemistry together on screen as well.
The Film Critic‘s successes may be varied, but it is still a worthwhile viewing. As someone who obviously reviews movies, it’s interesting to see a role like that woven into a film. Guerschuny shows a deft touch for a first-time writer/director and I hope to see more films from him in the future, especially as the South American film scene sis beginning to make a name for itself.
The Film Critic opens in theaters and hits VOD today.