Movie Reviews
Problemista (2024).

Problemista Review: A Zany and Wacky Surrealist Comedy

Problemista, written, directed, and produced by Julio Torres, stands as a distinctively quirky entry into the realm of surrealist comedy, unfolding a narrative as unpredictable as it is delightful. Starring an ensemble cast led by Torres himself, Tilda Swinton, RZA, and including Greta Lee, Catalina Saavedra, James Scully, and Isabella Rossellini, the film masterfully intertwines themes of ambition, art, and immigration into a tale that is both deeply personal and universally resonant.

At the heart of Problemista is Alejandro, portrayed by Torres with a balance of naïveté and determination that instantly endears him to the audience. The film kicks off by delving into Alejandro’s imaginative childhood in El Salvador, immediately setting a tone of whimsy that courses through the movie’s veins. His migration to the United States signifies not just a change of location but a leap into the abyss of dreams and desires, masterfully symbolized by the mysterious cave from his mother’s stories.

The narrative takes a significant turn when Alejandro, aspiring to be an innovator at Hasbro yet stuck in the gears of New York’s less glamorous jobs, finds himself entangled in the eccentric world of Elizabeth, played with impeccable finesse by Tilda Swinton. Elizabeth is an art-world pariah whose unpredictability masks a deep vulnerability, making her an immensely fascinating character. Their odd-couple dynamic drives the story forward, crafting moments of both comedy and unexpected depth.

Problemista excels in its visual storytelling, embracing the surreal in both its aesthetic and narrative structure. The whimsically presented Craigslist and the vivid representation of immigration bureaucracy through surreal exchange rooms are but a few examples of Torres’s imaginative direction. These elements serve as poignant commentary on the protagonist’s quest for belonging and success in a foreign land.

However, the film is not without its flaws. At times, the pace suffers under the weight of its own creativity. The storyline occasionally meanders without clear direction due to the juxtaposition of multiple elements.

Yet, what truly elevates Problemista is its underlying warmth and optimism. Despite the absurdities and challenges, the heart of the story lies in the relationships formed amidst chaos. Alejandro and Elizabeth’s evolving bond, along with Alejandro’s identity crisis, adds depth to the film beyond its surreal elements. The final act brings a satisfying conclusion that ties the film’s many threads together.

The cast delivers uniformly strong performances, particularly Greta Lee as Spray and Catalina Saavedra as Dolores. RZA’s depiction of Bobby adds an interesting layer. Although, his character’s backstory and motivations could have been explored further for greater impact.

Torres’s direction shines in his ability to blend humor with heartfelt emotion. He creates a film that is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. Isabella Rossellini’s narration ties the story together and adds charm.

Overall:

Problemista offers a unique take on the immigrant experience wrapped in a surrealistic, comedic package. While not flawless, its inventive storytelling, engaging performances, and heartfelt message make it a film worth watching. As a piece of art, it reflects the complexities of chasing dreams in an indifferent world. It reminds viewers of the beauty found in resilience and the unpredictable journey of life.

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Problemista Review: A Zany and Wacky Surrealist Comedy
  • Acting - 8/10
    8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 8/10
    8/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7/10
    7/10
  • Watchability - 7/10
    7/10
  • Rewatchability - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10
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  • Problemista (2024).
    Movie Reviews

    Problemista Review: A Zany and Wacky Surrealist Comedy

    Problemista, written, directed, and produced by Julio Torres, stands as a distinctively quirky entry into the realm of surrealist comedy, unfolding ...
  • Problemista
    Features

    SXSW 2023: Problemista Premiere Cast Q&A

    The cast of Problemista descended upon SXSW 2023 to support the release of Julio Torres’ debut film. Tilda Swinton, RZA, Isabella ...
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