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Spain, 1996 (MIFF 1997, Made in Spain)

Director: Manuel Gómez Pereira

Victor Ventura is a wanna-be actor struggling for survival in a rapacious Madrid, a hapless Hugh Grant type whose earnest approach to life has thus far found him delivering more pizzas than lines. Victor's luck changes when he gets two breaks: an audition for a Hollywood film and a lucrative job at 'Hot Line', a local phone sex company. From here, director Pereira launches into a frenetically paced, elaborately plotted and absolutely hilarious comedy of contemporary Spanish manners and sexual politics.

The film shifts expertly from moments of pure slapstick and broad farce to acutely observed satire, maintaining a determinedly irreverent tone and taking pot-shots along the way at every­thing from American-Spanish relations to the Hollywood casting couch, plastic surgery, the phone sex industry and Spanish masculinity. While the narrative twists and turns are worthy of Hitchcock, and the satiric tones invite a compari­son with fellow Spaniard, Pedro Almodovar, the film more particularly recalls the cracking pace and razor-sharp dialogue of the Hollywood screwball comedy. Ultimately though, this witty and incisive Spanish romp carves out its own thoroughly original territory.

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