Cinema Review: Official Competition

Posted August 25, 2022 in Cinema Reviews

Official Competition

Director: Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn

Cast: Penélope CruzAntonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez

Release Date: August 26

Ageing millionaire Humberto Suárez (played by José Luis Gómez García) mulls over his legacy and wants to be remembered differently, but not by improving his image, no, by creating something that outlasts us all. A bridge perhaps? No, no, something else, something far grander. Perhaps…a movie?

Quickly the rights to a Nobel prize-winning book are purchased at a staggering cost and directing duties are handed over to award-winning director Lola Cuevas (Cruz). It’s clear the old man knows next to nothing about movies, and having never read the book, this a pure vanity project. Regardless, he is in agreement with Lola that they need the best actors to portray the two brothers at odds with one another in the script. Enter Felix (Banderas) and Ivan (Martinez) who’s real life personas somewhat echo the characters within this movie adaptation. Banderas plays the reckless older brother Manuel, struggling internally with his younger more successful brother Pedro who turned him in after a car accident. Both brothers meet the same woman Lucy and after she falls pregnant, the father unknown, she stays with Pedro.

As far as acting chops go, Banderas’s Felix is the looser, more freewheeling, one while Martinez’s Ivan is the revered method actor. Soon, as suggested and immediately expected, they clash on set with Cruz as officiator. Banderas as usual brings his slightly idiotic, slightly cavalier, persona to proceedings as the working relationship goes steadily downhill. He fully grasps what his career allows him; the riches, the women, the status. Ivan is disgusted. He would never use his position for personal gains.

Though Official Competition lags a little in the middle, things pick up with a few unexpected twists and turns as we rally towards the denouement. It’s a very clever film and indeed a sly satire of the movie industry as a whole. As good as Martinez is, playing the straight man, as stiff as a plank, lacking much in the way of a sense of humour, it’s Cruz and Banderas who take the opportunity to dial up the crazy. There’s a number of hilarious and very memorable moments scattered throughout, but really any scene focusing on Banderas steals the show. He’s having too much fun here.

Words: Shane O’Reilly


The key to the city. Straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.


National Museum 2024 – Irish


The key to the city. Straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.