5 questions with Hernán Guerschuny
The Film Critic, by Hernán Guerschuny is a charming and self-referential film about a film critic looking for love, but is consumed by romantic comedies. It is written and directed by Guerschuny, an Argentinian former film critic. We spoke to Guerschuny via email, and were pleased with his responses.
Scene Creek: What did you take from your experience as a film critic towards making a movie? Did you find it easier or more difficult to make a film?
Hernán Guerschuny: Well, for one, I have seen many movies. At first, that may sound good, culturally formative, but the downside was that when the time came to make my own, subconsciously, I could not stop comparing my film to all those movies. And as I wrote every single line of the script, I kept thinking about what each of the film critics I know would have to say about it. The only way to get rid of that problem was to include the character of the film critic in the actual film, so that he could criticize what we were watching. Also, I thought having a voiceover in French criticizing it all would be a lot of fun, and very rich cinematically.
SC: Your film subverts the trope of the romantic comedy, and yet elevates it as well. Why do you think that this genre is so shopworn and yet iconic at the same time?
HG: The romantic comedy is, of all genres, the most predictable. And yet, perhaps because of this, it becomes a strange addiction. It almost appears to have a social function. You got to a romantic comedy in the same way that you listen to a U2 song for the thousandth time (perhaps to get in a certain mood), or in the same way that you open a bottle of white wine when you know you’re gonna have fish. We criticize women when they go to see Notting Hill (yet again) but we are unable to resist most of its scenes. It is a genre in which, because we know things are going to resolve favourably, we do not mind a predictable ending. We care about the journey.
SC: I loved the scene where a critic was capable of ruining a movie, (and with seats instead of stars). Was this based on a real experience?
HG: Of course! It is very common in this business for movies, and directorial careers, to be ruined based on rumours alone. Hallways are sometimes more of a deciding factor than long articles. It’s a funny thing, the film critic defends his opinion as his most valuable asset, yet he also wants to belong and be part of the mainstream way of thinking within his community of critics.
SC: What style of film do you think will come to replace the romantic comedy?
HG: Other romantic comedies, but ones created to be seen on iPads. Romantic comedies have always existed, and will continue to do so. Love-like death-is a subject that never gets old. We just find new ways to tell its story.
SC: This film is playing the TJFF, yet it does not seem to be explicitly Jewish. Maybe it’s implicitly a Jewish film? What is a Jewish film?
HG: I belong to a generation for which Judaism is more of a tradition than a religion. For me, spirituality has more to do with those potato knishes that remind me of my grandmother, than going to the synagogue. In the film there are traces of that spirituality, that emotion that takes over us when we remember that certain food or that particular dress we associate with the people that have loved us, and made us who we are.