Official Competition

Official Competition ★★★½

The point between method acting and performance art is the axis of satire in “Official Competition.” 

After a whirlwind film festival tour of showings, “Competition,” with a scene depicting Penélope Cruz gleefully decimating a Golden Lion and a Palme d’Or, now arrives in wide release to make an appeal to the mere plebeians. 

Directed by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, the movie’s comedic jabs on self-important artists lose a bit of sharpness ‘out’ of competition. But, for those external to the industry, there is still plenty of humor to be found from navigating a landscape where actors regularly make headlines for extreme measures taken for devotion to their craft.

“Competition” stars Oscar Martinez and Antonio Banderas as two men who represent opposing ends of the prestige acting spectrum; one for the Method, and one for Money - a spectrum that ultimately loops around only to consume its own ego. 

Completing the self-gratification ménage à trois is Cruz. As the film within a film’s director, she is a lesbian take on Jared Leto smashed into David Fincher - relying on stunts and extreme measures to distract from her overpowering soulless emptiness.

It is a tricky feat to set out to create a satire about the spiritual vacancy of the medium and industry that are the same as the satire itself. Stare too much into the abyss of the award circuit and… well, “Competition,” for all its intelligence, teeters precariously on the abyss itself. 

It is ultimately, then, the main trio of actors that grant “Competition” the invaluable award of a soul. 

Seeing Cruz, Banderas and Martinez so charismatically and competently mime these vacuous figures with such whim is the essential setup for the meta medium punchline delivered by “Competition.” Such vivacious and mesmerizing people cannot possibly be so inane as this satire would make them out to be… right?

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