Matthew Cooke’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’m sure I’ve said this before multiple times but I’m a very emotionless person. That being said, this film made me blubber a lil bit. Just from the set-up I had a feeling it would get me if the film stuck the landing.
No doubt this is a film for film lovers, and film lovers will no doubt talk about how this perfectly captures their experience with cinema, and all that yada yada. But I’m not gonna talk about that because frankly, that’s not the core of the film. Yes, it’s a major aspect of it, but you can replace the love for cinema with any other passion and the point will still stay the same. Film is merely the backdrop. At its core, this is very much a mentor-student film, and a story about growing up, growing out of the innocence of childhood, moving on from what you once loved as a child. The inevitability of reality and old age.
The film could’ve very easily fallen into cliches, been overly sappy and emotionally manipulative, but it all feels earned. Right away you buy into the friendship between Toto and Alfredo. It’s wholesome and sweet. This makes the emotional devastation in the second half of the film, and the build up to it hit a trillion times harder.
Also, beginning your film with a list of all the awards it was nominated for and won is the ultimate power move.