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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Film Critic (El Critico) movie review: it stinks!

The Film Critic red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
A film critic turned filmmaker seems intent on confirming negative stereotypes about critics… and that’s before his movie gets truly unpleasantly smug.
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m a film critic
I’m “biast” (con): not a huge fan of rom-coms
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Former film critic Hernán Guerschuny makes his debut as screenwriter and director with The Film Critic, a movie that appears intent on confirming all the negative stereotypes about film critics, up to and including the one that we are all wannabe filmmakers. Víctor Tellez (Rafael Spregelburd) is a grumpy, elitist critic for a Buenos Aires newspaper — the Internet doesn’t seem to exist in this world — who holds popular movies in disdain, reserving the worst of his ire for the risible clichés and utter predictability of the romantic comedy. I can’t say I entirely disagree with his stance on the rom-com as a genre, but The Film Critic then plants Víctor squarely in the middle of one, clichés intact, when he meets off-the-shelf manic pixie dream girl Sofía (Dolores Fonzi). How rom-com is this? How MPDG is she? She quirkily shoplifts during their freespirited trying-on-hats falling-in-love montage. Really. She deems him “interesting and repulsive,” which is true, except for the interesting part; actually, he’s not even repulsive enough to compensate — he’s just a familiar sort of tedious sad sack. (You know what might have made him slightly interesting? If this all turned out to be a nightmare of his while he fell asleep at a screening, maybe, or perhaps while he was having the heart attack the movie seems to threaten is in the offing for him. But no such luck.) Merely underscoring the tropes of the genre as they are happening onscreen isn’t clever, nor does it suddenly make them cute or amusing. But the film veers into truly unpleasant smugness when it suggests that Guerschuny might be akin to Capra, and that any negative criticism of The Film Critic is probably due to the offending reviewer simply not getting laid enough. But hey! The Film Critic also suggests that stupid rom-coms don’t need eggheads like me on their side anyway.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of The Film Critic (El Critico) for its representation of girls and women.

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The Film Critic (El Critico) (2015) | directed by Hernán Guerschuny
US/Can release: May 15 2015 (VOD same day)

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Danielm80

    In the past year or so, there’s been a wave of movies that portray critics badly, including Birdman, Top Five, Big Eyes, Mr. Turner, and now this film. Generally, they follow the same pattern: The critic is pompous or unethical–to the point where he or she seems like a cartoon–but turns out to have one redeeming feature. In Big Eyes, for example, the critic’s analysis of the paintings seems to be right on target (though it’s never clear what Burton thinks of the artwork). But the hatred of critics in some of these films felt so extreme–to me, at least–that the redeeming feature didn’t really redeem the character.

    I’m not surprised that filmmakers dislike critics. That’s been true for generations. But I’m curious why the negativity has reached a boiling point this year.

  • This is the first film, though, where the critic is the protagonist.

    It *is* interesting, isn’t it, that as the power of critics has waned, there’s so much more vitriol about us.

  • RogerBW

    And yet in this case we’ve got the guy’s first screenplay, first feature directing gig, so presumably he doesn’t have huge critical scars that he has to work through.

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