“Official Competition,” a satirical comedy from Argentinian directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, lampoons the international art-house scene with biting wit and self-referential humor. The film centers on the capricious decisions of billionaire Humberto Suárez (José Luis Gómez), who impulsively sets out to create a legacy by producing a movie. He assembles a dream team of acclaimed director Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz), international movie star Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), and esteemed actor Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez), but the project quickly devolves into a chaotic farce.
The film showcases Cruz’s comedic talent as the fiery-haired, larger-than-life Lola Cuevas, whose previous film credits include a trio of pretentiously titled projects. Cruz is joined by Banderas, who gleefully satirizes his career missteps and the Hollywood personas he has encountered. At the same time, Martínez brings his serious thespian chops to the role of Iván Torres. Together, they form an incredible trio that embodies the eternal struggle between art and commerce.
Set in a vast, architecturally impressive convention center, the film focuses on the rehearsal period for the cast and crew as they attempt to forge an intimate connection with their characters while navigating the absurdity of their surroundings. The unlimited resources at their disposal become a farcical trap that stifles the creative process, leading to disastrous consequences. Cohn and Duprat’s satirical take on the filmmaking process exposes the inherent absurdity of assembling emotionally stunted narcissists and egomaniacs and expecting them to bare their souls for the sake of cinematic art. “Official Competition” revels in its wry commentary and relentless mockery, delivering a delightfully entertaining critique of the art-house film industry.