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"The Film Critic" is clever and original, but fails to live up to its potential.
This movie is right up my alley! Not just in terms of its subject matter, but also its attitude towards many of the people who do what I'm doing right now. If you think, as I do, that most movie critics have forgotten what it's like to just be a movie fan and seem to go out of their way to nitpick and tear apart movies, you may find this movie both entertaining and validating.
"What if your life became a movie... that you hate?" That's the tag line on the movie poster for "The Film Critic" (NR, 1:38). It's a case of art imitating life and art imitating art. A production of Argentina, the movie is called "El crítico" back where it came from, but it addresses universal themes of art, love and finding a place in the world in which you are comfortable, regardless of what others think.
Victor Tellez (Rafael Spregelburd) is an influential film critic who thinks a lot of himself and very little of most movies he sees. He lives in a Spanish-speaking country, but prefers to think in French. (His thoughts are audible at various points and are appropriately subtitled for Spanish-speaking and English-speaking audiences.) As Tellez attends a seemingly endless string of private screenings with his fellow critics, he then joins his colleagues in complaining about what they just saw. Tellez has a reputation for being an especially critical critic and is confronted and stalked throughout the movie by a young filmmaker whose passion project Tellez savaged in one of his reviews. When Tellez visits his niece Agatha (Telma Crisanti) at the video store where she works, they disagree over which kind of films are quality films. Tellez complains in particular about how formulaic romantic comedies are. Then, much like the characters in the original "Scream" (1996), after discussing the rules of the genre, Tellez finds himself bound by those same rules – when he gets involved with a beautiful young woman.
While searching for a new apartment, he meets Sophie (Dolores Fonzi), a very desirable woman who's very different from him, especially when it comes to her taste in movies. He keeps running into her throughout the city (as in 1989's "When Harry Met Sally ") and they start to date. It's pretty funny seeing the jaded Tellez work his way through the rules of the rom-com, and hearing portions of his internal monologue adds to the humor of his situation. Through his relationship with Sophie, the influence of Agatha and the experience of writing a screenplay which becomes a romantic comedy, his perspective changes. However, in spite of Tellez' life beginning to follow a typical rom-com pattern, he also learns that the rules can be broken.
"The Film Critic" is a clever self-referential meditation on love in the modern world, but could have gotten more out of its premise. The film takes a little too long to get to Tellez' relationship with Sophie. Late in the movie, the story takes a sudden turn into a dramatic subplot that seems like a distraction from what the movie is really about – and is then dropped with no follow-up. Fonzi makes Sophie a pleasure to watch, but inadvertently calls attention to her co-star's lack of charisma. It's too bad that this film couldn't deliver on the promise of its central idea more effectively and for a larger percentage of the film, because when it's focused on what makes it special, it's tough to criticize. But, taken as a whole, this film critic (although I still prefer the term "movie reviewer") gives "The Film Critic" a "B".
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