It's 1978 in military-occupied Chile. Trucks of armed soldiers patrol the streets, searching for leftist groups to persecute under Pinochet's dictatorship. Everything is crumbling and grey: not a hint of happiness or life can be seen, only worry and fear stretched across people's faces as they hurry down the street.
Against this backdrop of a country oppressed, 52-year-old Raúl Peralta Paredes O. (Alfredo Castro) nurses an obsession with Tony Manero, John Travolta's character in the newly released Saturday Night Fever. He attends several viewings of the movie in a dusty theatre, alone, and poorly recites Travolta's lines over and over. He recruits a group of loyal followers to perform the dance with him, and scrutinzes their practices with lifeless eyes. He enters a Tony Manero lookalike contest in a white suit that must match Travolta's in every detail, down to the number of buttons.
As the movie progresses, the chilling realization sinks in that nothing will break Paredes' delusion. Nothing can stand in his way; not poverty, not his friends, not even murder. All of these are mere setbacks on his path of becoming Tony Manero.
OVID.tv Showcases a Film With Superb Acting
In this writer’s opinion, the pinnacle of Tony Manero is the acting, especially from Castro, who masterfully portrays a character that the audience is both sympathetic towards and repulsed by. It's a complicated feeling for a protagonist, as we are disgusted by his obsession and lack of human emotion and at the same time rooting for him to somehow be successful.
There were several instances of violence and gore and a few long sex scenes, which were, perhaps, neccessary to convey the tumult of the times and make the viewer uncomfortable. However, this writer certainly felt a little too uncomfortable, as well as impatient with the slow pace of the movie.
Tony Manero is recommended to those who either enjoy examining the obsessed and mentally disturbed, or are interested in learning about life during Chile's occupation- who can look past the slow pace and graphic X-rated detail.
Alfredo Castro: Raúl Peralta Paredes O.
Amparo Noguera: Cony
Hector Morales: Goyo
Paola Lattus: Pauli
Elsa Poblete: Wilma
Nicolás Mosso: Tomás as a Child
Enrique Maluenda: TV Host
Antonia Zegers: TV Producer
Marcelo Alonso: Romanian
Marcial Tagle: Glazier
Rodrigo Perez: CNI Agent 1
Francisco Gonzalez: CNI Agent 2
Diego Medina: TV Producer
Luis Uribe: Tony 5 (winner)
Sergio Monje: Tony 1
Maité Fernández: Old María
Greta Nilsson: Cashier
Cristian Ordóñez: TV Guard
Sebastian Pinto: Tony 2
Juan Pino: Tony 3
Luis Salazar: Tony 4
Pablo Larraín: Director
Juan Ignacio Correa: Executive producer
Mariane Hartard: Executive producer
Juan de Dios Larraín: Producer
Enrique Lerman: Assistant producer
Cao Quintas: Co-producer
Images courtesy of OVID.tv