Official Competition; An Entertaining Flick for the Summer Movie Season. Grade: B+
Official Competition tells a story about a wealthy business man named Humberto (Jose Luis Gomez) who just turned 80 years old. As Humberto reflects on his life as a whole, there’s a feeling of dissatisfaction as he feels when he leaves this earth, he didn’t left anything that actually mattered. Humberto then gets inspired to leave something behind that’ll make a great impact on humanity: A Film. But not just making any film, a film in which had the best of the best. Lola Cuevas (Penelope Cruz) is set to direct as her previous works were successful, Felix Rivero (Antonio Banderas) will be cast as the lead as he’s been an extremely successful actor with tons of awards, and Ivan Torres (Oscar Martinez) is set to be the co-star lead as well as he is also a great professional actor as well.
I can’t help to think I just watched a Pedro Almodovar film, however Pedro did not have any involvement in this film whatsoever. This film felt similar to the likes of Almodovar, due to the way the story is being told, the way it’s shot, the personality and characters that are written, and of course Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas being included as well. That’s actually a compliment considering the films I’ve seen from Almodovar are typically really good, as what film makers Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat did with this film was also on par with those films as well.
If you enjoy films, in which goes in depth behind the filmmaking process… Most likely you’re going to really enjoy Official Competition, as it’s basically dives deep into pre-pre-production. We are presented a director and a couple actors, who rehearse and read off their scripts. But what is typically a simple calm reading of what the actors go through in the early stages… Lola Cuevas however doesn’t go the typical calm route in these readings. Lola takes it as if their shooting the film, as she will not be satisfied until the reading is executed like it would be done behind the camera. Lola evens takes measures to the extreme, as in order to achieve what she’s looking, she’ll tend to go over the line to get exactly what she wants out of her actors.
On paper Official Competition may not sound that appealing, however this is by far one of the most entertaining films of the summer season. It felt like watching a clear presentation of the absurd nature of those working in the film industry, as the justification of their actions is acceptable just because it’s “claimed” to be for the arts. An example would be method acting, as actors go through the entire film making process by being extremely dedicated to their role by continuing on being that character beginning and end of production. While you can admire the dedication, however having method acting as an excuse to treat others like garbage or being extremely difficult to work with just makes you a complete asshole.
As we experience Official Competition: There are sequences and moments that are taken extremely too far, to where justification is that it’s suppose to challenge the actors or showcase their talent in the most absurd way. I won’t spoil anything: But what Lola did to her actors was appalling and what Felix did to Lola and his co-star is extremely distasteful. It really felt like a battle between egoistic beings, as it was an extremely entertaining humorous experience especially.
Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, and Oscar Martinez were all terrific in their performances, really putting on a show all together. I would say the most likable character would have to be Ivan for me, he’s the most normal person in the group by far. Even when it came to his shtick of tricking Lola and Felix into what he was saying was believable… At least it was actually mature and didn’t overstep any boundaries. It actually provided a useful lesson to wanting to make the audience believing in you, without coming off a complete dip shit like Lola and Felix were earlier in their examples. Still: I really enjoyed Lola and Felix as characters, as they delivered some great sequences and laughs especially with their personalities.
Couple flaws to mention with Official Competition. The predictability can be a little noticeable, as there were sequences that you knew where it was going the minute the scene was setting up. I would have also like Humberto to be involved with the film more, as I felt considering he funded this whole production up he should’ve been involved more in this film.
How Official Competition wraps up was pretty dope and especially clever. It’s really all up to the writers to determine when exactly is an appropriate time to wrap up the story, as the writer has the full power to determine whether or not the story shall continue forward or leave it off the way it is.
Overall, Official Competition was a pretty damn good film. I highly recommend checking this one out, one of the better entertaining films of the summer for sure. -Mitch Smietana