Problemista Review

There is a bit in Problemista regarding overdraft fees that is not only relatable but also hilarious. It is funny to see how they poke fun at the ridiculous ways that banks fleece their clients and the reasoning they use. If you stay for the credits you see that there is a statement from the bank regarding a change they have made to their practices. While this segment might seem bizarre to be in the film, it also helps to see many of the obstacles immigrants face when they move to this country. 

Courtesy of A24

An aspiring toy designer, Alejandro, played by Julio Torres, is told that his work visa is going to expire and he needs someone who can sponsor him. Alejandro meets Elizabeth, played by Tilda Swinton, an eclectic art world outcast who needs help finding her frozen lover’s artwork to catalog and create an art show. If you feel that the synopsis of the movie is strange, welcome to the world of Julio Torres. 

Problemista is a fascinating movie not only about a toy designer who wanted to accomplish their dream but also a great allegory for the immigrants struggling to make it in America. While there may be some heavy-handed messages in the movie, due to Torres’ style of writing it comes off as quirky and light-hearted. The movie, in an interesting way, shows the viewers the dragons that need to be slain to survive. Now while this story may be geared to immigrants who live here it is also relatable to anyone who is trying to achieve their goals and live their dream. 

I easily related to Alejandro in the way that he took many jobs just to support himself. Anyone can relate to working a strange job or having that one eccentric boss who needs you more than you need them. In the character Elizabeth, Swinton shines as the privileged artist who feels entitled to talk and behave a certain way when she is not that important to others. Although Elizabeth seems hardened by the world she lives in, it is great to see the other side of her when we see her with her love played by the RZA. It would be great to explore this softer side but that would ruin the great performance of Swinton. 

Speaking of great performances, Julio Torres brilliantly shows us the complexity of trying to survive in this country while also pursuing your dreams. Through Alejandro, we see the duality of a person trying to be true to themselves but also adapt to the world to fit in. He wants to make his mom proud of his accomplishments but also not lose the person he is. There is a great moment in the film where he finally stands up for himself and the result is not as bad as he suspects. 

Problemista shows us that the American Dream that many try to obtain is out there but there are just too many obstacles for people to overcome to get them. 

Courtesy of A24

Final Thoughts: Promblemista is a fantastic film on the many issues immigrants go through to try to live the “American Dream” and stay in this country. Julio Torres’ story is relatable to immigrants and anyone who has tried to get a job. The view into the art world, artists, and Filemaker Pro needs to be experienced and talked about amongst friends.

Kid-Friendly: The movie is quirky enough that it will hold the attention of older kids. Younger kids might get lost in the story and not understand the importance of a Worker’s Visa. The theme about working for your dream might be good for teens to see and inspire them to follow their dreams.

Violence: There is not any violence in the movie but there is some language that might not be appropriate for younger viewers.

Alejandro (Torres) is an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador, struggling to bring his unusual ideas to life in New York City. As time on his work visa runs out, a job assisting an erratic art-world outcast (Swinton) becomes his only hope to stay in the country and realize his dream. From writer/director Julio Torres comes a surreal adventure through the equally treacherous worlds of New York City and the U.S. Immigration system.

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