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Official Competition (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Dirs: Mariano Cohn, Gaston Duprat, Spain 2021, 115 mins.

Cast: Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martinez

Spanish with English subtitles

Review by Carlie Newman

Penelope Cruz – tick, Antonio Banderas – tick, Oscar Martinez – tick. And Banderas and Cruz together with that special chemistry on full power, is just wonderful! The film, which shows two ego-tripping actors making a film with an eccentric director is always amusing and superbly acted.

Although it does not have a real dramatic story, it is nevertheless completely absorbing. A wealthy elderly man (Jose Luis Gomez) wants to leave a lasting memento and decides to make a film using a book he has not read. He is encouraged to employ a very individual filmmaker, Lola Cuevas (Penelope Cruz) and to hire two famous but very different actors, Felix (Antonio Banderas) and Ivan (Oliver Martinez).

While Felix relies on his leading-man, handsome star status, Ivan is a teacher and method-type actor. Lola works though exercises to get to what she believes is the truth in her movie. She makes her actors perform numerous exercises to get them into character. The film is a series of rehearsals before the start of the actual filming. Felix and Ivan continuously rub each other up the wrong way and their conflicts are echoed in the film that is being made. Although they don’t like each other’s way of working, the two actually perform well together.

While Banderas uses his own star status to portray the ego-centric actor, Martinez shows us a serious actor who over-thinks his roles and wants to spend a long time sussing out his character before filming. Cruz, with a huge mass of auburn curls, is an exaggeration of some directors who over-rehearse their actors to try to get them to portray believable characters. There is real charisma between the three actors.

The film within the main move, reflects some to the characteristics of the two main actors battling against each other. This is shown in the scenes from the film they are shooting in rehearsal.

It’s a super enjoyable film which, while providing lots of amusing moments, also has some honest things to say about actors and filming.

In cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema now.