Saturday, March 16, 2024

Problemista - Movie Review

The Movie: Problemista

The Director: Julio Torres

The Cast: Tilda Swinton, Julio Torres, RZA, Greta Lee, Catalina Saavedra, James Scully, Larry Owens, Laith Nakli, Kelly McCormack, Spike Einbinder, Greta Titelman, River L. Ramirez, and narrated by Isabella Rossellini

The Story: Alejandro is an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador struggling to bring his unusual ideas to life in NY. As time runs out on his work visa, a job assisting an erratic art-world outcast becomes his only hope to stay in the country.

The Rating: 8 / 10

The Review:
Okay, so this movie lives in sort of a hyper real existence that is as artisticly creative as the movie itself. Julio Torres, who directs and plays the lead character Alejandro, clearly had a very precise vision for what he wanted this movie to be and he captures all of it perfectly on screen. This is the El Salvadorian film maker's first feature film as a director so of course there may be a few flaws here and there as part of the learning process but I was so caught up in the story and the characters, I didn't have time to care or take notice.

When Tilda Swinton is on her A game there's no stopping her and what she does in this movie as Elizabeth, the unstable wife of an artist (played by RZA) who has put himself in cryosleep, is a prime example of what she is capable of when fully unleashed. Her character is an absolute train wreck all the way through and yet Swinton gets you to understand who she is and why and I even ended up caring and rooting for her and Alejandro to succeed together when I should have been wanting him to run as far away as possible.

Swinton has so many beautiful moments of chaos although one stands out during a conversation where a coffee shop waiter tries to get the duo to simply give him their order. What ensues is one of the more brilliant and chaotic and hilarious dialog exchanges I have seen in quite some time. I can't even begin to explain it, you just have to see it for yourself which, as I think about it, really applies to the entire movie as well. Trying to fully explain this movie is like trying to explain the wild and random dream you just had.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this whole story was inspired by a dream that Torres may have had at some point because the whole thing really unfolds in a very dreamlike, otherwordly manner. The style and imagery, the costuming and characterizations are all just a little bit beyond what our brains are accustomed to understanding which makes the moments of social commentary hit that much harder. Torres attacks industry, commerce, finances, work culture, social culture, and just about anything else you can think of that is relevant in our day to day lives and it all fits beautifully into his unique vision and story telling style.

The whole thing is like an intentionally random dream filled with hope and inspiration and creativity and I'm here for all of it. Definitely check this movie out when you have a chance.

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