Following his roommate’s sudden departure, Pablo finds a left-behind vintage sweater that comes attached with a certain mischievous spirit. Said spirit sends the struggling actor on a colorful quest alongside fellow hustling millennials in Roberto Doveris’ LGBT comedy Phantom Project.
The film opens in Santiago, Chile, with our hero, Pablo (Juan Cano), flexing his acting skills as the “patient” in a series of clinical trials. Today’s lesson is how to ask a patient if they’re sexually active. He has resorted to “acting” jobs like this because he is in financial straits, as his boyfriend dumped him, leaving Pablo to pay full rent. The ex left behind an incredibly comfortable cardigan sweater with a spirit living within it. Pablo wears the clothing item as a good luck charm, but the sweater has a mind of its own. It hates being hung on hooks and certainly hates Pablo’s dog, Susan.
No, this is not a horror tale. Soon, the spirit begins to infect the lives of Pablo’s millennial artist friends, who unknowingly find inspiration from this unseen spirit. This is Pablo’s story as he is trying to navigate life as a newly single gay man. He finds interesting men along his journey but ultimately wants to return to his first love, acting.
“…left behind an incredibly comfortable cardigan sweater with a spirit living within it.”
Phantom Project comes off as a day-in-the-life story. Much of the film has Pablo meandering throughout the day, trying to figure out his direction in life. All the while, this spirit uses him to touch other lives. The narrative is full of good intentions and succeeds in being a story of positivity. My problem is that the intentions (and the spirit) are hard to figure out. I think most of us want tales that have a direction of some sort, some point off in the distance that we’re heading toward.
I appreciate the addition of the spirit, but I wanted it to feel more significant to the overall point. It manifests itself in a series of hand-drawn line-art animations where the spirit acts more as a presence in the room versus a sentient actively engaged with the cast. Well, except when it is busy tormenting poor Susan the dog. The spirit’s connections to the main characters needed to be much stronger to warrant its existence and importance to the story.
This is the LGBT movie to see instead of Bros. Phantom Project gives a much more realistic picture of gay men looking for love and meaning in their lives. If you like authentic character dramas and LGBTQIA+ stories, this is about as down-to-earth as it gets. The stakes are low, but the characters are fun. It would have received a better recommendation if Doveris had significantly infused the title with more heightened stakes.
Phantom Project hits theaters on October 14, 2022.
"…[a] realistic picture of gay men looking for love and looking for meaning in their lives."