Magazine article New Internationalist

Tony Manero

Magazine article New Internationalist

Tony Manero

Article excerpt

Tony Manero

directed and co-written by Pablo Larrafn (98 minutes)

The late 1970s. A kitsch television show is looking for a Tony Mañero impersonator. Tony who? - you are probably wondering. Well, he's the strutting, white-suited disco-dancer from Saturday Night Fever. And this is Raul's big chance.

Never mind that Raúl is probably 50 and looks more like Leonard Cohen than John Travolta - he's still slim, his hair is mostly black, and he's not too stiff to play him in a creaky local stage show. But, most importantly, Raúl believes.

A nice comic set-up maybe? If this were British, you might expect a feel-good social comedy with a gentle let-down, and lessons learnt. Larrain's film, though, deals with the much harsher reality of Pinochet's Chile where, for example, we see two policemen beat a man to death for carrying oppositional literature.

Alfredo Castro's Raúl is horribly, wonderfully real, and increasingly repulsive. He's a desperate, near-illiterate, apolitical opportunist, who, to become Tony Manero, is prepared to kill, steal, and, unforgettably, defecate on a rival's stage suit. …

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