Honestly, I was unfamiliar with the previous work of actor/writer/filmmaker Julio Torres. The main things that caught my attention were that Tilda Swinton co-stars in the movie and that the film has a Spanish title. Those two elements hooked me in and brought me back to Austin’s Paramount Theater for another headlining feature. Let me say that Problemista is a rollicking comedy with a genuine heart. It is hard to say if this film will garner much attention from mainstream audiences, but it is guaranteed to earn a cult following.
Julio Torres writes/directs, and stars in Problemista. Torres portrays Alejandro, an El Salvador immigrant aspiring to become a toy designer. Unfortunately, Alejandro has had no success selling his ideas and must settle for any work he can get. He is running out of time and desperately needs to find a steady job to renew his work visa. The sweet, quiet, and unassuming young man reluctantly accepts employment as a personal assistant to Elizabeth (Swinton), a manic, unstable, and impulsive artist who is very difficult to please.
After watching the beginning moments of the film, it becomes very apparent that Julio Torres has a unique style and sense of humor. It is a brand with which I automatically connected and, thus, absolutely loved. He brings to his movie a very colorful and vibrant style that is occasionally cartoonish, but still grounded in reality. I had an absolute blast with the hilarious Problemista.
Watching Tilda Swinton take on such a wild character is entertaining and exhausting. She put so much energy into that character that even she was probably wiped out after the shooting wrapped. Julio Torres gives Alejandro a softer, deadpan, and seemingly unflappable quality as the perfect counter to her insanely impulsive antics and rapid-fire tirades. But don’t get me completely wrong. Alejandro may look cool as a cucumber on the outside, but Torres gives the audience the perfect tells that he is frightened, frustrated, and about to lose his mind to the antics of his employer.
I must highly recommend this movie when it finally gets released. Though a cult following wouldn’t be such a bad thing, I sincerely hope that more people give Torres and his film the attention, love, and success it deserves. Those already fans of his previous work will undoubtedly love this new showcase of his talent. I am delighted to have enjoyed this movie and am now very interested in his other projects.