Archive for cannes 2008

Cannes 2008: Tony Manero Review

Posted in Movie events with tags , , on May 20, 2008 by funofmovie

UK, May 20, 2008 Tony Manero is a film about a fifty-something man obsessed with John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever, mimicking his mannerisms, his strut and, of course, his hip-swivelling dance moves. Far from being a gentle screwball comedy however, the subject matter could not be more serious. Set in Santiago de Chile, against the backdrop of General Pinochet’s dictatorship, the film is a gripping account of a society at its lowest ebb.
Raul Peralta is the disco dancing central character, a malevolent, monosyllabic man who believes he can escape the hopelessness of his situation by aping an American anti-hero. His every waking hour is dedicated to Tony Manero, working towards Saturday night when he hits the dancefloor of the local town hall to unleash his (none-too-impressive) moves.

“Tony Manero” gives it his best John Travolta.

As the film kicks off, Peralta encounters a dream opportunity – to perform as his hero in a televised contest to find the country’s greatest Manero impersonator. His efforts to succeed in the contest lead the film into extremely dark territory however, as Peralta cheats and thieves his way around town as he tries to perfect his act. ‘Tony’ is capable of the most horrendous acts of violence, yet the people around him have become so desensitised to violence that barely anyone bats an eye-lid.
It’s relentlessly depressing stuff, yet gripping all the same, and that’s largely due to Alfredo Castro’s hugely impressive performance in the lead role. Present throughout proceedings yet barely saying a word, Castro creates a brutal, spiteful, disgusting movie monster, yet one can’t help but be mesmerised by his quest to succeed. Around him the cast is also uniformly fine; the fear, sadness and pain of the times etched on the faces of dance partners and friends.

Peralta takes flight across the rooftops of Chile.

These same people are obviously involved in some kind of underground activity against the dictatorship, but this is only hinted at throughout the film, the point being that no matter what they did, it was impossible to escape the shadow if Pinochet’s regime.
At the same time Peralta’s obsession with American culture foreshadows what’s to come for Chile, the culture of violence continuing, only to then be swallowed up by the globalist interests of Uncle Sam, bringing with him McDonalds, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and the like. The result is an uncompromising film that’s difficult to watch, but sure to live long in the memory.