Vassilis Kroustallis reviews the Chilean LGBT comedy 'Phantom Project'.

Chilean filmmaker Roberto Doveris, in his second feature (after the 2016 debut 'Plants') shows a sea of warmth in handling everyday issues -with some lack of narrative nerve- in his LGBT+ drama 'Phantom Project' (Proyecto Fantasma, 2022).

Pablo (a restless Juan Cano) is an aspiring young gay actor, still needing to get some groceries from his parents -and, in desperate need of a roommate. Coming from a recent breakup with his famous YouTuber friend, and being left with Susanne the dog (a 'gift' of his former roommate to take care of), Pablo needs to make ends meet. At the same time, an old cardigan starts getting a life of its own in the apartment.

Moving forward as a job and relationships travelogue, 'Phantom Project' is an honest and fresh project of a young generation in need of so much -but taking back so little. Doveris populates his sunny film (not a social realism effort here) with a lot of diverse, ebullient characters, who seem to take life as it comes -with a pinch of supernatural salt. Plants, energies, and YouTube videos -and a very dysfunctional straight relationship next door- give tasks to make Pablo occupied in the film's thinly connected narrative threads. Pablo himself is on emotional denial, making his present financial worry more prominent than his own need for emotional attachment.

The ghost (some rudimentary animation in its place) seems to be the catalyst for connecting the two in the camera's beautiful voyage into Pablo's apartment. Not everything is explained or makes a lot of sense in its behavior, yet talk about how love is a supernatural effort is as welcome as the young protagonists' radiant faces on screen. This is a film of ordinary connectedness in the absence of strong commitments, and Pablo moves from try to try (and job to chores, including a 'meaningful' connection with a holistic course partner) to an acting job.

More casual than consequential, and less glam than the actor trade would have it (but with a steamy audition scene as a bonus), 'Phantom Project' makes its audience more empathetic and involved in the life of its community of characters -who sometimes seem more matter-of-fact than needed. A worthwhile, ghost-infused, daily LGBT+ life effort.

Vassilis Kroustallis


'Phantom Project' was screened at the 63rd Thessaloniki Film Festival