Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Tony Manero

Undoubtedly Chile’s most important film release of 2008 was Pablo Larrain’s Tony Manero, which was presented in the ‘Directors Fortnight Selection’ at the Cannes Film Festival. Larrain’s second feature is an impressive thriller about a psychopath obsessed with John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever. With its graphic sex, unexplained violence and strong performances it’s an interesting but rather bizarre film from a country whose film industry is still allegedly undeveloped. Set in Santiago in 1978 with its deserted streets, shuttered shop fronts and walls covered with painted over posters, the director illustrates how working class Chileans retreat from the realities of life in a film he described as an allegory of life under the Pinochet regime. Alfred Castro, who also co-wrote the film, plays Raul Peralta an unsmiling disturbed man who’s preoccupied with the idea of impersonating Tony Manero. Raul leads a small group of dancers regularly performing at a bar located in the city when he unleashes his passion by imitating his idol. His dream of being recognized as a successful showbiz star is about to become a reality when the national TV announces a ‘Tony Manero’ impersonating contest. His urge to reproduce his idols likeness occasions some very strange behaviour!

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