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MÁLAGA 2021

Review: El cover

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- In his first foray into directing, actor Secun de la Rosa once again converts Benidorm into an international song festival (or at least a cover version of it)

Review: El cover
Carolina Yuste in El cover

COVID-19 has had quite an impact on the directorial feature debut by actor Secun de la Rosa, a recognisable face from titles such as La pequeña Suiza [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Some Time After [+see also:
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trailer
film profile
]
and The Bar [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alex de la Iglesia
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]
. Not only did the virus interrupt the movie’s shoot in the eastern coastal city of Benidorm – or “Beniyork”, as some funny guys like to call it, alluding to its Manhattan-like skyline – but the first-time director was not able to attend the presentation of El cover [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
in person as it opened the 24th edition of the Málaga Film Festival, because he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

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The film depicts a series of characters who make a living off tourism in the aforementioned Mediterranean city: be it as a waiter (Àlex Monner) or the manager of a restaurant (Susi Sánchez), or impersonating pop stars, like Adele (Marina Salas) or Amy Winehouse (Carolina Yuste), in the countless bars and clubs in the famous English district, where so many foreign visitors get so very drunk.

An encounter between them all will change the course of their lives, although one of them decides not to fight for his dreams, as he is weighed down by a colossal sense of failure which he has inherited from his ill-fated family of flamenco musicians. It is upon the foundations of these desires to pour your heart and soul into the things you yearn for that Secun de la Rosa has built up the fairly unremarkable storyline of this feel-good movie, which attempts to convey excitement and give a kind of adrenaline rush in such depressing times.

To this end, he peppers the running time with cover versions of some fantastic tunes, inserted into nifty musical numbers: without a doubt, the highlights are the one on the beach at night time, featuring “Ne me quitte pas”, and the long string of songs that concludes with “I Will Survive” andResistiré” by Dúo Dinámico, which happens to have become an anthem in Spain in these times of lockdown. However, his characters lack charisma and audacity, and the situations he depicts are sorely missing oomph and originality, all of which means that El cover’s attempt to thrill and surprise the audience falls a bit flat and doesn’t have the same immediacy as a summer hit.

Although someone here states, “You have to feel in order to fill a stage,” that genuine, overwhelming emotion is not conveyed by the action on the screen, despite the fact that El cover broaches the topic of how difficult it can be to be authentic, and talks about not being afraid of embarrassment, living in the moment and never being able to be 20 years old again. But youth is squandered by the antiheroes of this karaoke-infused feature, set in that mind-addling Spanish paradise of affectation and partying, which served as the venue for 41 editions of a (now defunct) international song festival, which De la Rosa, either intentionally or inadvertently, has attempted to revive.

El cover is a Spanish-Portuguese co-production by Nadie es perfecto and Stopline Films, in collaboration with GTS Entertainment (Universal Music Group Partner) and Amazon Prime Video. Its international sales are overseen by Latido, and it will hit Spanish screens on 23 July, courtesy of Entertainment One.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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