A fucking masterpiece.
It’s not often that a movie strikes me this way.
I had every reason not to even WATCH this film.
The premise was too perfect.
Too good to be true.
In English (and on Netflix in the U.S.), it is listed as The Film Critic.
But we pay our respects to international films even if the template of our website goes haywire in so doing.
El Crítico is an Argentine-Chilean coproduction.
Sounds like a wine, right?
Well, this beats any Malbec I’ve ever tasted.
I cannot say enough good things about this picture!
First things first-Hernán Guerschuny is a goddamned genius.
From the very start of this film we get the Godard whisper…that voiceover which started (si je me souviens bien) circa 1967 with 2 ou 3 Choses que je sais d’elle.
The majority (80%?) of El Crítico is in Spanish, but the remaining 20% (in French) makes all the difference.
We have an Argentine film critic, played masterfully by Rafael Spregelburd, who thinks in French.
We are thus privy to his internal monologue throughout the film.
For anyone who writes about motion pictures, El Crítico is indispensable.
[not even a pinch of salt too much]
Dolores Fonzi is really good, but Señor Spregelburd is outstanding.
Spregelburd plays a Godard-obsessed film critic (are you seeing why I like this?) whose fumbling attempts at romance stem from his total immersion in cinema.
Guerschuny deftly interpolates scenes which are “meta-” in the same sense that Cinema Paradiso was essentially a film ABOUT film.
And I am a fan of this approach.
It worked perfectly for the greatest artistic creation in the history of mankind (Histoire(s) du cinéma) and it works exceptionally well for Guerschuny’s film [of which James Monaco and la Nouvelle vague I think would be proud].
Guerschuny, like his main character Tellez [Spregelburd], wants to explode the genre of romcom.
Yes, you heard me right: romcom.
And it thus places El Crítico in the same tradition as Truffaut’s Tirez sur le pianiste and Godard’s Une Femme est une femme.
But something happens to our protagonist Tellez.
And something, I suspect, is in the heart (!) of director Guerschuny.
This is, in fact, a film about appreciating naïveté.
It is a postmodern idea.
And an idea dear to my heart.
It’s quite simple, really…
I can appreciate Arnold Schoenberg as much as AC/DC.
Abel Gance as much as Napoleon Dynamite.
The idea is that pretentious films (and film reviews) can become just as tiresome as trite, Entertainment Weekly boilerplate.
Does that magazine even still exist?
I don’t know.
It’s an honest question.
In fact, I wasn’t even sure I had the title correct.
It’s supermarket-checkout-lane film criticism.
But it’s not worthless.
Sometimes the most esteemed, erudite film critics become blind to the beauty around them.
They don’t give simple movies a chance.
On the other hand, there are a ton of crappy movies out there today.
But El Crítico is not one of them.
But let me tell you about the secret weapon of the film under consideration:
Without her, this movie fails.
Not miserably, but the façade falls apart. And then the superstructure…
Ms. Crisanti plays Ágatha, the 16-year-old niece of our film critic Tellez.
It is she who plants the seed within Tellez’ mind that romantic comedies can be sublime.
But the salient point is this: the masses are not dumb.
I will stand by Thomas Jefferson on this point till the bitter end.
And so The Film Critic speaks to young and old. And middle-aged.
It is about miracles.
But it is real.
Simply put, this is the Sistine Chapel of romcoms.
Or, what Michelangelo would have done with the genre.