Review: The Perfect David (Tribeca 2021)

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Visually captivating and narratively enthralling, The Perfect David is an unnerving tale of obsession, control, and so much more.

Teenager David (Mauricio di Yorio) works to craft a bodybuilder’s physique under the watchful eye of his artist mother (Umbra Colombo) in Felipe Gomez Aparicio’s superb, complex film. The Perfect David quickly establishes the uncomfortable dominance of the teen’s mother who is utilizing his exquisite physique for her own artful purposes. She wipes his mouth while eating, rubs his head as it is in her lap, shaves his armpits, and even injects him with steroids when he turns to performance enhancers to achieve what he wants. David, for his part, is also balancing being a kid, socializing with friends, chasing girls, and living outside of his monotonous routine. Mixing themes of body image/dysmorphia, sexuality, and masculinity, The Perfect David is a character study in fixation and compulsion. 

Both leads are flawless in their performances, commanding each scene and masterfully conveying each emotion. Aparicio’s choice to depict much of the film in darkness and shadows furthers the unsettling tone and is reflective of David’s increasingly troubled, enraged state of mind. The constant uneasiness carries through to the end as David’s infatuation with sculpting the perfect body only intensifies.

The Perfect David is an impressive achievement in film and one of the very best of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

Rating: 5/5

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