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Film In Focus: TONY MANERO

 

Tuesday, September 30--------The name Tony Manero may be familiar to you....it is the name of the character that John Travolta immortalized in the film Saturday Night Fever. The image of the strong but sensitive Italian guy from Brooklyn, who rebels against the restrictions of his life by dancing at the local disco is an iconic one, and not only in America.

 

In Tony Manero, a startling film from Chilean director Pablo Larrain, the film walks a fine line between comedy, parody, tragedy and sadism as it tells the tale of a hapless 50 year old drifter who desperately identifies with the on-screen Tony Manero and knows every line, every move of the film Saturday Night Fever. When a local television sstation holds a contest to find the "Chilean Tony Manero", the pseudo Tony prepares to show his stuff and win the prize. But behind this sentimental side is a raging volcano of rage, jealousy and violence.

 

In his quest to merge identities with his on-screen idol, this Tony gets involved in some very sick shit...scenes of nauseating violence and cruelty to both intimates and those he only encounters casually. His complete obsession with winning and his pathetic desire to make some cinema magic happen in his own miserable life is ferocious, frenzied and ultimately very sad. Stage actor Alfred Castro, who also co-wrote the screenplay, is an unsettling yet strangely sympathetic on-screen presence. You feel sorry for his hapless loser, even while you are disgusted by his behavior and his explosive temper.

 

Tony Manero premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and has since been seen at the Toronto International Film Festival. Paris sales agent Funny Balloons represents the film internationally (www.funny-balloons.com). It does not yet have a theatrical distributor in the US, but strong word of mouth is building for this repellent yet ultimately rewarding film.

 

Sandy Mandelberger, NY Film Festival Dailies Editor

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New York Film Festival
Online Dailies coverage of the 44th NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL September 29 – October 15, 2006

United States



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