Based simply on its playful, intriguing premise, the Argentine import "The Film Critic" should have been a better movie. But like so many of the flicks that the film's gloomy title character seems to review, this kind of anti-romantic comedy proves a mediocre brew.
Victor Tellez (Rafael Spregelburd) is a 40-ish cinephile and movie critic dubbed "a terrorist of taste" by his frustrated editor at a Buenos Aires newspaper. It's been two decades since the widely read Tellez has bestowed the periodical's highest rating of "five chairs" on any film.
These days, Victor largely trashes the commercial fare he slog-watches in a screening room along with his circle of fellow critics. But it's the modern rom-com that the divorced Victor holds in the highest contempt, perhaps because his own love life is seriously wanting.
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However, when Victor unexpectedly encounters the attractive Sofia (Dolores Fonzi), he finds himself living in his own real-life romantic comedy replete with such genre conventions as the meet-cute, the eccentric free spirit (Sofia is a kleptomaniac), the first kiss under a night sky of fireworks, the well-timed rainstorm, and the now-or-never finale (nicely turned on its ear).
Although the meta-style conceit is fun, it doesn't fully kick in until the film's midpoint. Until then it's a sluggish, fairly dour ride.
The script by director Hernán Guerschuny is light on character development and goes afield with story strands involving Victor's teenage niece (Telma Crisanti), a vengeful movie director (Ignacio Rogers) and a screenplay that Victor is hired to write. Most disappointing, though, is how little a movie called "The Film Critic" has to say about film criticism.
"The Film Critic."
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes. In Spanish and French with subtitles.
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena. Also on VOD.