Film premieres: three characters take the idea of ​​art as deception and simulation to the limit

official competition (Spain-Argentina/2021). Direction: Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat. Screenplay: Andrés Duprat, Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat. Photography: Arnau Valls Colomé. Edition: Albert Del Campo. Art direction: Alain Bainee. Cast: Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martínez, José Luis Gómez, Irene Escolar, Manolo Solo. Duration: 114 minutes. Distributor: Good view. Qualification: only suitable for over 13 years. Our opinion: Good.

After observing with a microscope all the possibilities of the exercise of art as an imposture in literature (the distinguished citizen) and in the plastic (My masterpiece), Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn decided that the time had come to do the same with cinema, the raw material with which they have worked in this search since its inception.

official competitionthe first (and very ambitious) international co-production of the increasingly prolific duo, advances these inquiries by taking them quite far from the costumbrista naturalism that permeated the two previous films. Instead of installing us in recognizable neighborhoods of Buenos Aires or cities of Buenos Aires, Cohn and Duprat (with the contribution from the script of Andrés Duprat, the other creative architect of these searches) take us to Spain to fill a story with observations about the ego of artists. that tenses to the maximum all the possibilities offered by satire.

the story it tells official competition it is that of putting together a film imagined by a powerful pharmaceutical businessman at the end of his life as the ideal tool to achieve social prestige. As millionaire as empty of affections, represented in the first image of the film with the painting of a sad clown, the man dreams of producing an auteur film to clean up his image and, above all, satisfy his vanity, which becomes at the core of the story.

To achieve this, he acquired the costly rights to the work of a Nobel Prize winner (the Argentine Daniel Mantovanithe main character of the distinguished citizen), convinces a director (Penelope Cruz, with a curious curly hair) famous for his innovative and eccentric methods, and ensures the participation of two famous actors who could not be more different. Ivan Torres (Oscar Martinez), renowned performer and teacher of theatrical roots, obsessed with showing himself to the world as a defender of an ethic that despises art as a vehicle for the enjoyment of the masses, and Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), the undisputed star of projects destined for immediate economic success and thought of as disposable material for popular taste.

The story takes place throughout the preparation stage prior to filming. The director uses that time to do all kinds of conceptual experiments with the idea of ​​exploiting to the limit the tensions between two figures accustomed to looking at the world from above. Deep down, neither wants to give up the lofty concept they have of themselves and each new essay is an increasingly forceful, hostile and even delirious sample of that struggle.

Cohn and Duprat transform all those moments into vignettes that put into play their vision of the world and the egocentric mind of the artists. As well they make the most of the fantastic settings (a great job by the art director Alain Bainée) in which the action unfolds: extensive exteriors and interiors with rectilinear, symmetrical shapes and great depth. The coldness of that setting spreads to the actions, much more icy and distant than what we saw in A masterpiece and the distinguished citizen.

There are some very funny moments (the actors rehearsing on a gigantic stone supported by a crane or immobilized with adhesive tape, completely at the mercy of the director’s whims), but the film is not so much amusing as it is uncomfortable in the portrayal of three characters that only they struggle to figure out the best strategy to lie, to hide their true intentions, and to show that they are, after all, much better (more cunning, more ingenious, supposedly more authentic) than everyone else.

Without too many turns or subtleties, the directors return to deliver the explicit, ruthless and cruel portrait of a world marked by fire by simulations, vainness, dreams of glory and false pride. The viewer is put to the test at all times, invited to discover each of the folds of those perfect performances that turn out to be nothing more than pure disguise.

With veiled references to real-life characters and their own careers, Cruz, Banderas and Martínez join this game with enthusiasm, conviction and commitment. All three manage, above all, for their respective characters to expose a monumental vulnerability behind that armor of arrogance, pride and disdain for others that they use to protect themselves. They will never know, because in the world of Cohn and Duprat, artistic imposture appears as the indelible mark that accompanies the destiny of their creatures to the end.

Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz and Oscar Martínez, in Official CompetitionDisney

We would like to give thanks to the writer of this write-up for this amazing web content

Film premieres: three characters take the idea of ​​art as deception and simulation to the limit