By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
The annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival kicked off its seventeenth year with a doozy of a comedy which both celebrates and lampoons the theater. Tercera Llamada focuses on a theater production of Caligula where the director’s (Carina Gidi) personal crises affect her creative juices, often creating conflict on the set with her producer (Anabel Ferreira), cast and crew. Each of these people have their own strong personalities with which the stressed and frustrated must contend. The spoiled diva (Rebecca Jones), the wise, but tired veteran actors (Fernando Lujan, Ricardo Blume), the talented, but inexperienced star (Irene Arzuela), and the neurotic and oversexed costume designer (Cecilia Suarez), among others have made this already troubled production a nightmarish hell. It is up to the strong willed, but flustered director and her loyal assistant (Mariana Trevino) to pull off this potentially sinking ship of a play and get it accepted into an international festival.
Written and directed by Francisco Franco Alba and co-written by Maria Renee Prudencio, this comedy from Mexico is a delightful and uproarious film with an assortment of colorful and deliciously delirious characters. The movie does take a little time to find its footing, but when it does, it fires red hot on all its cylinders. With a large ensemble cast, Alba and Prudencio manage to develop each character well and utilize their comedic and dramatic potentials superbly. As for the performances, I was particularly impressed with Carina Gidi, who delivers an intense and rich performance as the play director, and Irene Arzuela, who not only shines in the theater scenes, but shows a lovely and heartfelt vulnerability as the talented newcomer. The film has plenty of scene stealers, but the real standout for me is Mariana Trevino who has her definitive moment to shine in one of the more hilarious scenes in the film. Kudos to Cine Las Americas for selecting such a great film to begin their film festival.