Award-winning Uruguayan actor Daniel Hendler makes his feature filmmaking debut with this portrayal of Norberto (Fernando Amaral), a dissatisfied man who discovers a zest for acting and the theater. Set in Hendler’s hometown of Montevideo, the film follows Norberto as his life is renewed by the discovery of an unknown talent.
Recently fired from his job at an airline, Norberto tries his hand at real estate. When the new boss criticizes his timidity and recommends that he attend a course in personal affirmation, Norberto opts for a theater class instead and immediately discovers a passion for it. But he hides it from his wife and even begins lying to his peers. His attitude continues to harden until his wife leaves him. With his new-found liberty, this complex man must find a way to move forward.
Amaral’s performance as Norberto is both real and precise. Even better, his comedic timing is impeccable. In one hilarious sequence Norberto attempts to close the deal on an apartment occupied by an elderly couple who have become a nuisance to their children. When he shows the place to potential tenants, he must constantly shoo the old folks into the kitchen to hide. It’s Amaral’s charisma that imbues what could have been a cruel moment with endearing warmth and sensitivity.
Hendler knows the habits and quirks of actors inside out, of course, and brings that authenticity to his story of a man in the process of becoming a performer. A witty and inspiring film about the revelation of embracing one’s creativity, “Norberto’s Deadline” also explores the complications of aspiring to achieve international success in a small country with few resources. Against those very same odds, Hendler has achieved just that. [Synopsis by Diana Sanchez/Toronto International Film Festival]