a.k.a. Argentinian Cinema of 2013 #1: El crítico (2013)
(Argentina, Chile 2013 98m) Village Recoleta
p Pablo Udenio, Hernán Guerschuny, Hugo Castro-Fau, Carolina Álvarez, Carlos Nuñez, Gabriela Sandoval d/w Hernán Guerschuny c Marcelo Lavintman ed Agustín Rolandelli s Juan Blas Caballero
a Rafael Spregelburd, Dolores Fonzi, Ignacio Rogers, Telma Crisanti, Ana Katz, Blanca Lewin, Alfonso Ponchi Baron
1st day of Bafici – April 11th, one of the first films seen as part of the ‘press’ package was this film playing “out of competition”.
There is an ambivalence in this film that is followed all the way through. There are moments that make it describable as a comedy and the next moment there are scenes of heavy and serious drama, all of them mixed up and narrated by our protagonist in a deep french voice (who says that voice overs in spanish sound pretentious), and so the film moves forward and tries again and again to compensate two worlds that are explicit in the movie as they are spelt out for the audience by our main character: the romantic comedy and the art film, those confronted early on by the figure of the niece of the critic Téllez (our protagonist) who loves the romantic comedies, while Téllez prefers the art of cinema given by Godard (many nods are given to his ouvre, specially ‘A bout de souffle’ (1960) who is even imitated a couple of times). And so, while that conflict still lingers in our mind, Téllez seems to have been interrupted from his life and thrown inside one of the most convincing yet still clichéd romantic comedies of the recent years. The rules are there and he knows them, yet he can’t avoid falling head over heels to the charm and (eh) beauty of the girl who owns the apartment he’s trying to rent for himself, all while he slowly reveals himself as a screenwriter using his real life musings with the woman he is meeting up with… and also, the life of the critic, which still seems to be the strongest part of the film.
The writing, the “stars” to rate them, the conversation over a coffee with fellow critics, that seems to be the world of the director of the film, and here we are witness to a rich and incredible life of the film critic for newspaper in Argentina, where they are looked at very highly, pasting the reviews on the doors and walls of the cinemas in Buenos Aires (when they are positive, of course), and that seems to be the most impressive and comprehensible aspect of the main character, while the rest of the time he mainly acts as an asshole with his ulterior motives and attitudes towards life itself and his hate of the people who don’t appreciate film as he does… something that I’ve gone over through the years but this almost 40 year old still can’t do it. It’s still an accurate portrait of a certain kind of people who just can’t get over being a nerd and his obsession of youth maintains to be his obsession as an adult, but at the same time the film makes it possible that the character has a way out: the prospect of being a screenwriter of a new movie, but that particular element is incredibly well thought in the way that it affects the whole ‘romantic comedy’ aspect of the film, with him and the woman with the dark past. The acting here from Rafael is top notch, impersonating the asshole and critical persona that exists out there.
It could be a simple film with a simple plot, but it gets overlong at the end by overcomplicating and trying to pass an anecdote from an earlier scene (that managed to create and affirm the character) as some important part of the plot, and it truly comes out of nowhere, and it kinda dissapoints when it happens, no matter how well filmed and acted the whole sequence is, it seems as if it really was there, not doing anything (for those who’ve seen it, I’m refering to the scene at the porn cinema), just using some time up to keep the film near the 90 minutes. This could be a great picture about the nerd coming out of his circle, or at least trying to, while being referential and interesting for the people who live in the ‘filmverse’ of the critics and screenings and festivals, and at the same time delivering a good and interesting romantic comedy… but all the filler and dissapointing scenes make all those possibilities a dream of what we could’ve had if anyone had counseled the director just a tad bit better. Still, it’s a good movie that I hope can be seen in certain particular circles of critics and film lovers, it’s one for them and not for the rest.