By Naseem Ally. Ernesto’s Manifesto is a heartwarming feature film starring Fernando Hidalgo, that centres around his character Ernesto, a charming, humble man who is doing his best to get by in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Ernesto’s constantly receiving the short end of the stick in life. Things don’t seem to be going his way anytime soon. However, after enduring a series of bad breaks, there are glimpses that his fortunes are about to change.
Speaking of fortunes, a fun fact about this film is that it was solely funded from Bitcoin profits – nice!
Fernando Hidalgo is great as the lead role in this film. His charisma and dry humour are along the lines of Ricky Gervais from the British series ‘The Office’. Yes, the British one, not the American one – sorry.
At the beginning of the film, Ernesto is somewhat of a ‘doormat’, but a lovable one that you can’t help but laugh at, and yet at the same time feel pity for.
He somehow manages to put up with Veronica, his snobbish girlfriend who doesn’t think too highly of him, but whom he’s still smitten for. Ernesto is unlucky in life as well as in love.
Ernesto’s Manifesto opens up with a beautiful wide shot of Los Angeles greenery. There are some breathtaking hillside views, after which the camera pans downs towards the suburbs of L.A, where we meet Ernesto who is California dreamin’. A solid opening for the film.
With L.A being accustomed to great weather, the director has definitely taken advantage of this with the majority of the film being shot during the day. The natural lighting really complemented the sets and costumes used in this film, and it’s overall feel which is quite laidback.
The sound used in this film is a fitting backtrack to the playful vibe, that resonates throughout Ernesto’s Manifesto. From the very beginning, you can definitely hear the Latin influence in the score. There’s some salsa, and to my ears at least, a touch of reggaeton.
In the first quarter of the film when Ernesto was having a few flashbacks of some previous work ‘incidents’, I loved the simple yet effective sound effects used during the quick transitions. It was very sitcom-esque in a similar vein to ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
The overall pacing of this film was well thought out, and none of the sequences felt rushed. It follows a similar format to the typical ‘day in the life of’ tv-shows where the audience gets to gauge and develop an overall feel for the protagonist. It doesn’t jump from one scene to the next, and it doesn’t drag out either which is a plus.
Within the first five minutes of Ernesto’s Manifesto, you’re invested in the story and looking to see where it’ll go next.
Fernando Hidalgo is the centrepiece for this film and delivers with perfectly timed one-liners, which sound even better in his dialect. He is constantly perplexed by some of the ‘expressions’ used by people in the film, and this makes for some hilarious scenarios.
The thing I appreciated the most about his character is that his charm and humour is pretty much effortless.
He’s not necessarily trying to be funny, which is a great thing because his performance doesn’t feel forced.
Even though Hidalgo really carries this film on his shoulders as Ernesto, there are some weak spots in this film, no doubt. Unfortunately, the rest of the characters seem to be doing a tad too much on the comedic punchlines, when they don’t need to.
They should take a page out of Hidalgo’s book for any future comedic roles. Sometimes, just keeping it simple works. Simple jabs are more effective than hooks. It’s just a shame that Hidalgo didn’t really have anyone he could bounce off of.
You just root for Ernesto to win in this film and quote-unquote ‘stick it to the man’.
This had the potential to be something special, but some of the weak links in this film dampen it, just a tad. I did appreciate the comedic attempts from the supporting cast and it seemed like they tried to take a leaf out of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ or ‘Modern Family’, but they weren’t quite up to par.
With that said, it’s still worth a watch as Ernesto is the main attraction in this film, and he definitely delivers.
Ernesto’s Manifesto is released in U.S theatres on December 13th and across all digital platforms on January 14th 2020.
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