Studio: Lorber Films
Cast: Alfreo Castro, Amparo Noguera, Hetor Morales, Elsa Poblete, Paola Lattus, Nicolas Mosso, Marcelo Alonso, Antonia Zegers, Marcial Tagle, Enrique Maluenda
Director: Pablo Larrain
Release Date: May 11, 2010, 11:01 am
Rating: Not Rated for (adult language, violence, nudity, sexual situations)
Run Time: 01h:36m:57s
ìThis whole thing sucks! Give me my jacket!î - Ra?l Peralta (Alfredo Castro)
Movie Grade: A-
DVD Grade: B
Film history has given us our fair share of stories chronicling obsessive fans. Weíve seen classics like The King of Comedy and Misery, as well as lesser fare such as two films titled, naturally, The Fan. Regardless of the filmsí quality, however, itís difficult to argue the appeal of the subject matter. The 2008 Chilean import, Tony Manero is a bit of a different animal among the rest of this subgenre, in that the psychopath involved doesnít necessarily obsess over a particular celebrity, but is hell bent on becoming a particular character from a movie. Virtually unheard of until now, director Pablo Larrainís stark character study now has a chance to join the popular ranks of the aforementioned thrillers via this new DVD release.
In 1978, Santiago, Chile, Ra?l Peralta (Alfredo Castro) deals with the hardships brought upon by Pinochetís dictatorship by doing what comes naturally: killing people. However, what is most near and dear to his heart is John Travoltaís character from Saturday Night Fever, Tony Manero. When Ra?l isnít busy decreasing the population total, heís leading a group of dancers in what can only be described as a mini-Saturday Night Fever reenactment. With the line between reality and fiction already beyond blurred for Ra?l, his obsession becomes even stronger upon the announcement of a nationally televised Tony Manero impersonator contest. Winning such an event would catapult Ra?l into a realm of happiness heíd previously never imagined, but to even come in second could be catastrophic for everyone around him.
Tony Manero is a fantastic hidden gem that sees Larrain taking the slow burn approach to tell Ra?lís morbid story. The film requires some patientence from those more accustomed to huge helpings of action and visual flair in their serial killer films, but its rewards are plentiful if you stick with it until the end. Larrain has crafted a very dark, edgy film that rarely lets up from its bleak outlook on not only the Chilean political landscape, but on urban life in general. The only true glimmer of hope that manages to break through the bleakness lies in the potential outcome of the Tony Manero impersonator contest at the movieís conclusion. I wonít spoil the results of whether this glimmer of hope comes to fruition or not, but even if it does, itís far too late for Ra?lís victims, which only further enhances the necessary bleakness that Larrain brings to the table. Then again, I canít think of a better way to film such a twisted, morbid tale.
Regardless what you think of the film as a whole, itís very difficult to argue that Alfredo Castroís performance makes this more than worth a look. At times, the spitting image of Al Pacino, Castro does an amazing job completely becoming the obsessive psychopath that is Ra?l Peralta. This character isnít your typical serial killer, in that he doesnít go around methodically plotting his next kill at any given time. Instead, he almost kills at random and usually out of (what he believes to be) necessity. Castro makes each of these deadly scenes believable, crafting a creepy, everyday killer, while never going over the top with his performance and ruining Larrainís desired effect. This is one of those star-making turns that can only be made possible if enough people latch on to Tony Manero in the same way Ra?l does in the film. Fortunately, this fine DVD release not only makes that possible, but makes it easy to encourage as well.
Chuck Aliaga May 11, 2010, 11:01 am