15 February 2011 | Imdbidia
Well acted but inorganic
A Spanish tragicomedy about the declining life of a second-rate theater actor, superbly performed by iconic Spanish actor Juan Diego.
The film tells the story of Santiago -an alcoholic actor in personal and professional crisis- who lives with his much younger girlfriend Ana, and is visited by his estranged son Guillermo. The movie depicts the life crisis of many old actors whose small and independent theater companies have been disappearing, or their age turned them from leading actor to nobody.
Juan Diego is splendid in this character, which he plays with conviction, honesty, rawness and credibility, perhaps because he knows well the sort of actor he's playing as he's been acting since he was a teen. Most of the supporting actors are also supporting characters, that is, their stories are there to offer a 360 degree human view of Santiago. Thus, the character of Ana -nicely played by Cristina Plazas- is there to bring out the macho selfish and emotional cruelty of Santiago as a person. The character of Santiago's son Guillermo -very well played by Botto- is there, on the contrary, to bring out Santiago's weakness and vulnerability. However, Guillermo's character takes a life of its own in the movie, and he's really intriguing and ambiguous, and keeps the viewer wondering if he's what he says he is.
The main problem with the movie is the connection of the characters between themselves, which I found not organic enough. The story, on the other hand, seems not to go anywhere, and all the fantastic work of the actors is somewhat wasted. In fact, the end is not open nor close, as if the director had stopped filming almost at the end and never got back to ending the movie. Moreover, there are too many dialogs and deep monologues, that are a bit pretentious and not interesting enough, which can tire the viewer too.
Both Diego and Botto won a Goya and the Spanish Actor Union's Award for their respective performances, while Diego also won the prize to the best leading actor at the San Sebastian Film Festival that same year.