The Reel Review


An aspiring toy designer from El Salvador must navigate the U.S. immigration system after he loses his job and hopes that his new employer, a mercurial New York City art world outcast, will sponsor his work visa. Julio Torres wrote, directed and stars alongside Tilda Swinton in this surrealist dark comedy about the frustration of being at the mercy of unreliable people.

Julio Torres and Tilda Swinton in Problemista

The problem with Problemista is that, beyond a few chuckles, it just isn’t so much funny as it is weird, and not weird in an interesting, good way. Torres, best known as a former writer at Saturday Night Live, also lacks the charisma as the star of his self-directed film to make his character interesting. Swinton of course leans into her wacky, exceptionally rude character and it is fun seeing Oscar-nominee Greta Lee (Past Lives) and entertainer RZA in comic roles, but the story is uneven and its pacing is all over the place.

Larry Owens and Julio Torres in Problemista

For those with the patience to get through Problemista‘s tedious midsection, the ending is a cute payoff, but not nearly cute enough to make this strange film worth seeing.


Problemista was originally scheduled for release on August 4, 2023, but was postponed to March 2024 as a result of the SAG-AFTRA strike.

• In addition to previously writing for Saturday Night Live, Salvadoran-American Julio Torres is the co-creator of the HBO series Los Espookys.

• Oscar winner Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) lives in Nairn, overlooking the Moray Firth in the Highland region of Scotland.



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