This Is Not a Comedy review – beyond the smiles

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: January 14, 2022
Netflix film This Is Not a Comedy


 A slice of life movie reflecting the grimness under the happy smiling faces of everyday life.

This review of the Netflix film This Is Not a Comedy does not contain spoilers. 

The existential crisis is one of the critical concepts of philosophy, which we can find the relatable in our everyday lives. What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose? Why are we doing all the things we are told to do? If I will be forgotten one day, what is the point of my work? I hope those questions reoccur in everyone’s mind living in this society. So does our protagonist Gabriel Nuncio in the Netflix Mexican film, This Is Not a Comedy.

Nuncio is a comedian who has never had anything happening now in his life. His jokes aren’t funny yet, he is facing financial problems (for which he borrows money from his friends and colleagues throughout the film), and most importantly, he has nobody to talk to in this situation. In this crucial moment of his life, Nuncio tries to write a movie script on a woman going to Mars and facing a similar kind of existential crisis. But whoever reads this can’t comprehend what it is about and denies this can be made into a film. Instead, they ask him to incorporate comedy into that so that it can be considered to them as well as made into a film. Meanwhile, there are subplots involved in which he meets a weird girl, Lyre, who claims that she can communicate with the aliens. She invites him to come on an intergalactic space trip with her, but with the urge for paternity, after his best friend asks him to be a sperm donor, he refuses the opportunity, and this crisis becomes more complex.

The screenplay by Gabriel Nuncio (the actor’s name is the same as the character) and Alo Valenzuela has the elements of the everyday crisis and explores the human nature of victimizing own. The peer pressures from the others to conform to the ideals viable to the society and the wariness of accepting novelty is beautifully depicted throughout the film. And, with the subtle acting of Gabriel Nuncio himself, he gets under the character’s skin with maximum relatability.

As per the suggestion of writing comedy from friends and colleagues, he tries to move forward with his ever-laughing face all the time. But, every time, all his desires and hopes are crushed. He doesn’t want this comedy (all-time smiles and moving forward). Instead, there is a cry for help in his actions. Subtly, he wants to break free from all this conformity. But, the attachments confuse him about his true meaning of existence. He doesn’t know what he has to escape. In consequence, everything drifts away from him.

This mental state of urgency and bewilderment is beautifully captured by the handheld camera movements by cinematographer Maria Secco. Her camera follows Nuncio everywhere and captures all his actions in every mundane situation. But with these, she creates the ground to understand this complex character more closely.

Always having a smiling face, Nuncio tries to confront all the odds. It represents our everyday situation as we want to become positive all the time. But the more we try, the more it becomes painful. Perhaps, this is the reason the film is titled This Is Not a Comedy, as, no matter how happy someone seems, deep inside, there is grimness in real life.

In the final act, the film ends with some absurdity, which may create confusion among the viewers. But, if you want some reflection on yourself, this film is for you to contemplate and perhaps find some.

You can watch this film This Is Not a Comedy with a subscription to Netflix.

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