A scene from ”Official Competition” 2021. From left are Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz and Oscar Martinez. IMDb photo

Buenos Días. Tomorrow, you’ll attend the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.

You’ll want to buy a ticket to “Official Competition,” a Spanish film about a dying billionaire (José Luis Gómez) who wants to be remembered for something other than his money, so he buys a Nobel Prize winning novel called “Rivalry,” for one of those billions, to make a movie.

Then he finds a producer who provides a cutting-edge director, Lola Cuevas, (Penélope Cruz), and two really famous guys to play rival brothers.

They will be Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas) and a prestigious by-the-book-famous Spanish theater actor, Iván Torres (Oscar Martinez.)

You’re excited to see the work of Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, who also collaborated on the script. No, you’re not.

This is about Banderas, “Mask of Zorro,” “Picasso,” the handsome guy with the greatest name in movies, José Antonio Domínguez Bandera. Try saying that real fast.
And of course, Mrs. Javier Bardem, the incredible Penélope Cruz. Let’s go.


We know it takes hundreds of people to make a movie, but we’re going to spend almost all of this movie with three, but three of the best in the business, rehearsing on colossal modernistic sound stages. Wait till you see the huge bolder and Saran Wrap sequences.

Hold your breath. Here comes Lola, as in “What Lola Wants, Lola Gets.” You know what I’m saying here?

Lola arrives in gold silk pants and a mountain of flaming hair so big she could rent part of it out to homeless doves.

She’s not here to make the boys happy. Lola rehearses scenes like a female Orson Welles, with lots of intense repetition.

She has her actors repeat a line, as in “Good Evening,” eight or nine times until she’s happy.

But Felix isn’t happy. Felix, who is used to action movies, likes to say his lines, shoot the bad guy, and ride away with the girl. So he’s way over his head here with Lola.


You and I don’t speak Spanish, but we love this cast. So here is a clue.

Felix. Think Johnny Depp without the tattoos, or Tom Cruise without Scientology. He’s an action guy sitting here itching to check his email.

Ivan, (Oscar Martinez) the older stage actor. Think Daniel Day Lewis of “The Phantom Thread,” who loathes all the fake pomp and glitter of movies, be it Cannes or Hollywood. But he respects Lola’s tedious line readings, and he’s a theatre guy here for the money.

This is the “Rivalry” the billionaire bought.

We never see the completed film, but something unexpected happens near the end that snaps you to attention, and then there’s a shot you won’t see coming. You’ll just gasp. That’s all I’m going to tell you.

You’ll go to see “Official Completion” because of Banderas and Cruz, and they won’t disappoint you.

Que la pases bien.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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