Title: The Film Critic
Director: Hernán Gerschuny
Low expectations always help a bad movie experience. In the case of “The Film Critic,” low expectations helped turn this one-star film into a…slightly better one-star film. I’m going to be honest, I was expecting a low-budget, cheesy rom-com. Instead I got a foreign rom-com spoof that kind of tried to be deeper than a rom-com should be. Throw in a couple extra nonsensical scenes into the mix, and “The Film Critic” pops out. Just wait till I tell you about the psycho of a main character…
Let’s start with who the players are in this thing:
Victor Tallez – The main character and namesake of the film (aka he’s The Film Critic). He’s a lonely, cranky man who thinks rom-coms are trash and have no sustenance. He also doesn’t like bread (an actual statement said by Victor himself), so it’s okay if you dislike the guy. Who doesn’t like bread?
Sofia – The leading lady and love interest of Victor. She’s your typical Manic Pixie Zooey Deschanel Dream Girl who doesn’t have a job and nothing better to do with her life than hang around with the grouchy middle-aged Victor. Here’s how the conversation regarding writing this character probably went down:
Writer: “Alright, so we’ve got to make the love interest quirky. They’re always quirky. What quirk can we give her?”
Probably the intern: “She likes to steal things!”
Writer: “Perfect. Put it in. Everyone loves a criminal.”
Other Characters you probably forgot about – Victor’s sister, Victor’s niece, Victor’s friends, Victor’s ex-lover, and his ragtag group of film critic friends. Oh, and you can’t forget about the creepy film director who has a vendetta against Victor because Victor gave a harsh review on the film director’s movie.
Great. Now that you know who these folks are, let’s look at the actual movie.
So obviously, our man Vic is a film critic who is bitter towards rom-coms and other movies that are like Winnie the Pooh: stuffed with fluff. One of the more confusing aspects of this movie is that Victor thinks in French, but all the dialogue is in Spanish. The best guess as to why Victor does this is because he imagines he’s in a foreign, artsy, high-brow film about himself (hmm, is this what we call meta? Or perhaps irony?), but the reason that Victor gives us is “[he has] no idea.” Glad we got that cleared up!
Anyway, the movie opens with the camera following a black-and-white Victor as he monologues in his head on his way to a movie screening. A recurring theme Victor thinks about is his “maladie du cinema,” which translates to “cinema disease,” because he thinks that all the fluffy movies he is told to review are killing him. Cheery guy, yeah? From what we see in the first few scenes, Victor reviews movies quite a bit, and has a little posse of critics who are his friends. There’s a lot of critic talk here, so if you’re a critic watching this film, you’ll probably chuckle at the comments made by this group.
We find out that Victor is a critic who writes for a newspaper, and is also nationally known. What is he known for? Not giving a full 5-star rating to any movie in years (his newspaper uses a scale of “Four Seats” instead of stars, so he’s been giving all the movies he’s seen “one seat” for years. The perfect definition of a pompous a-hole). During a scene where Victor and his critic friends are having lunch, a young movie director approaches Victor and complains about how Victor gave his movie a bad review. “It took me 5 years to make it. It took you 5 minutes to destroy it,” says the young director. Tough break, bud! Oh, and don’t forget about this guy. He appears again…at the very end of the movie.
Now, the next scene is one I would like to talk about. Victor is sitting in a coffee shop with his ex-lover, who is showing Victor something that she has written, some sort of report on movies. During the entire time that she is explaining her paper, Victor is watching her with incredible intensity. Obviously, it seems like Victor is not over this woman, as he leans forward to kiss her, but knocks his coffee over, thus saving her from the situation at hand. Now, you may think that this was the clichéd moment the movie writers were looking for, but you would be wrong. Victor and his ex sit back down and resume their conversation, ignoring what just happened. Then, Victor tells his ex to “give [him] a smile.” Vic’s ex does not oblige, and so (yes, what happens next is a legitimate scene in the film) Victor tells her that if she does not smile for him in the next eight seconds, he is going to choke her, THEN he puts his hands around her neck.
Excuse me? EXCUSE me? Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? Get out. Leave. NO. How does this have anything to do with the plot at hand? I thought we were supposed to like Victor and emphasize with him, but instead he turns out to be some misogynistic creep who has a temper issue.
Thankfully, Vic’s ex excuses herself from the coffee shop and leaves. This is the woman who wins the movie. It would’ve been better if she had slapped the snot out of him, but unfortunately that was not written into the same script that had Victor threatening to choke this woman if she didn’t smile for him. In my opinion, this is the scene that gives the movie one star.
Moving on, Victor finally meets our leading lady Sofia while they both are looking for a new apartment. At first, the two of them bicker over who should have the apartment, with Sofia having the upper hand because she made a down payment before Victor. And just like that, you have the beginnings of a rom-com. Let me break it down for you: Here are all the points you need to have a rom-com:
- Guy meets girl.
- Guy and girl don’t like each other.
- Guy and girl happen to bump into each other again and start to develop a romance.
- Guy and girl are in love.
- The relationship ends for one reason or another (one of them made the other mad, one of them is leaving, etc.)
- One or both realize they can’t live without the other.
- Cue running/rain scene.
- Guy and girl make out.
“The Film Critic” hits all of these points in the movie except one, but we’ll get to that. Sofia and Victor develop a relationship, with her playing the part of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who softens up the grouchy old man. Over time, Victor realizes that his life and relationship with this girl is turning into one of the rom-com movies that he hates so much. But alas, Sofia is only in town for a short amount of time, meaning she must leave sooner than later.
On the day Sofia is supposed to be leaving, Victor gets a call that his niece has been admitted to the hospital. Here is another scene that I would like to take a pause at. First, Victor goes to the hospital to see his niece. They don’t exactly explain what happened to her, but from the story she tells, she had met a guy who proclaimed his love for her, then two days later said he felt differently. My mind immediately assumes the worst: this jerk of a guy beat her up. Turns out, the jerk of a guy is (you guessed it) the young film director from the beginning of the film! This creep leaves Victor a message to go to a movie theater, and when Victor walks in, the film that is playing is a bunch of clips of Sofia and Victor from the past week that they’ve spent together. Creeeeepy. Essentially, the young film director is still bitter over the review that Victor gave his movie, so he decides to creep on Victor and Victor’s family. Victor and the jerk exchange some conversation that ends with Victor telling the jerk to go apologize to his niece.
So we’re just going to blow over this? Why are there multiple creepy dudes in this film who are misogynistic jerks? Why did the director think this was a good way to move plot forward? Let’s take another look into the writing of this film:
Writer: “Okay, so we have a couple parts of this movie that need a little spice, a little flavor y’know? Some of this stuff is way too dull.”
Probably the intern again: “Make the men disrespectful to women!”
Writer: “He’s right. We need to add a little bit of realism to this film. Heck, let’s make ‘em reallllly creepy, too. That always works. Likeable characters are always creepy. Good job, intern. You’re hired.”
Anyway, it’s the day of Sofia leaving, and Victor is bummed, but then he has a realization. Sofia is the woman he needs! Victor breaks into a run (vis-à-vis “When Harry Met Sally”), the skies open, and the rain begins to pour. Now, this was actually a somewhat funny moment as Victor realizes he has run onto a movie set with fake rain. Hilarious! Victor continues his journey and gets to the airport, and right as Sofia is about to walk to her gate, Victor stops her and confesses his true feelings for her. He ends his monologue by saying that if Sofia leaves, “the rest of [his] life will be ugly, horrible.” There is a pause here, where a voice-over Victor explains that there are only so many stories to tell, and even less possible endings to those stories: they either end badly, or well. After all this tension building, Sofia finally responds to Victor:
“You’ll feel better with time.”
And then she walks away.
MIC DROP. ROLL CREDITS. BREAK OUT THE AIR HORNS.
But in all seriousness, I was very satisfied with this ending. Very reminiscent of “Casablanca,” sure, but that’s what this movie is about: it’s a very tongue-in-cheek look at rom-coms and romance films alike. As you watch this movie, you assume that Victor is going to end up with the girl because he hates rom-coms and you love the irony of his life becoming the thing he hates.
BUT THEN HE DOESN’T GET THE GIRL.
Life’s not fair, huh? Maybe Victor shouldn’t have been such a weirdo with his ex. Isn’t there a word for that…? I think it’s something like “karma”…?
Overall, I actually kind of enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t the worst film I’ve watched so far, and having low expectations helped. The ending satisfied me, and I didn’t really feel sorry for Victor, cause that’s how real life works. Sometimes you don’t get the girl.
Oh, but let’s not forget that this guy tried to choke a smile out of his ex-lover.