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Film / Sesión continua

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Sesión continua (aka "Double Feature", although it literally translates to "Continuous Session") is a 1984 film from Spain directed by Jose Luis Garci.

The whole film is basically a love letter to the movies. Jose Varela is a film director, and Federico Alcantara is a screenwriter and playwright. Together, they are collaborating on the script for a film called I'm Slowly Getting Depressed, which Jose will direct.

There are all the typical conflicts involved in film production. As the film opens Jose and Federico have only come up with 30 pages of script. The studio boss doesn't want any sex scenes, he'd like more action, and he hates Jose and Federico's plan to shoot the film in black and white. But Jose and Federico have personal problems of their own. Federico's wife Pili is about to leave him. Jose is estranged from his daughters. And Jose has a mysterious new lover, Mala. Or at least she may be his lover; it's not quite clear why she's hanging around.


The whole thing is basically a framework around which to hang non-stop Shout Outs to Hollywood cinema.


  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end Jose and Federico talk about their next project. It seems that Balboa would like a period piece, something "medieval".
  • Ascended Fanboy: Jose and Federico love movies. Their homes are festooned with classic Hollywood memorabilia and they like nothing better than to sit around and yack about movies. They're filmmakers.
  • As You Know...: An attractive reporter interviewing Federico runs through some of the other scripts he's written and awards that he's won.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Avoid the R rating or whatever the Spanish equivalent is. Balboa, the producer, insists that Jose and Federico not put any sex scenes in the movie. He things more chaste kissing will make the film more commercial.
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  • Conversation Cut: Jose and Federico are yacking, as they do. Federico starts talking about how mussels can apparently change their sex from season to season. The scene then cuts to the two of them, now a whole lot drunker, stumbling through the parking lot to Federico's car as Federico is still blabbing about pansexual mussels.
  • Deliberately Monochrome:
    • In-Universe, Jose and Federico demand that I'm Slowly Getting Depressed be shot in black and white, because their 40-year-old protagonist grew up watching black-and-white movies and TV and they want their film to represent that.
    • Then at the very end, as Jose and Federico are calmly looking out the window at the lights of the city, the picture fades to black and white.
  • The Generation Gap: When discussing I'm Slowly Getting Depressed, in which a 40-year-old government minister falls in love with a 20-year-old student, Jose and Federico talk about the "generational abyss" between them. Later, when Balboa is crying about his 19-year-old son's suicide, he uses the exact same phrase in a Call-Back.
  • Gratuitous English: When describing their 40-year-old protagonist's Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis, the screenwriters both say "Where is my life?" in English.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall
    • The producer urges Jose and Federico to keep the film under 1 hour, 40 minutes. This movie is 94 minutes long.
    • Mala calls out Jose on his seeming inability to relate to anything other than through the lens of filmmaking. She says "Have you ever thought that your job of making movies is in itself a movie that you make?"
    • Jose makes the same point to Federico near the end, about how their lives are a movie: "We're unreal! We live in a movie also!"
  • New Year Has Come: Towards the end of the film Spain celebrates New Year's 1984. Federico puts on a tux but Pili, who's completely checked out of their marriage by this point, refuses to go out. Jose celebrates the new year at home alone with his father's urn.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Our protagonists are sitting in a public park when one says "We have to kill the minister." The other one says no, they can just have him kidnapped. Another man sitting on a neighboring bench gives them a long stare.
  • Orbital Kiss: It isn't shown, but Balboa the producer specifically requests a shot in I'm Slowly Getting Depressed where the camera circles around the leads as they kiss.
  • Proscenium Reveal: The opening shot is Federico addressing some offscreen person in an extremely emotional manner ("My love...I love you...and I need you.") Then when the camera reveals that he is addressing a second balding, late middle-aged man, the scene seems to become something different. Finally, Jose says "No one talks like that, fuck!". It's soon revealed that they're actually writers running through dialogue.
  • Secret Other Family: Pili reveals to Federico just why gorgeous young Mala is following Jose around. It seems that Jose's sailor father stopped in South America when Jose was a teenager, fell in love with a Brazilian woman, and fathered Mala. Jose and Mala are half-siblings.
  • Shout-Out: Shout-Out, The Movie. The film starts with a photo montage of Hollywood directors, starting with Griffith and Chaplin from the silent era, then moving through Hitchcock and Wilder before landing on then-big contemporary figures like Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola. It ends with a quote from John Ford. ("Second-class citizens, that's what we are.") In between it's non-stop shout outs, as Jose and Federico call out Hollywood directors and classic stars and talk about the movies.
  • Show Within a Show: I'm Slowly Getting Depressed, an arty black-and-white film in which a middle-aged government minister has his life upset when he falls in love with a student half his age. We see several scenes being filmed, and at the end Jose and Federico attend a test screening.
  • Surprise Incest: Apparently Mala didn't tell Jose she is his half-sister, which is why a smitten Jose is putting on the full-court press romance. She doesn't give in, but she does kiss him in a non-sisterly way before she leaves for good.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy: Jose has a habit of spending his lonely evenings conversing with the ashes of his dead father, in an urn on the shelf. Federico expresses some concern over this, but Jose explains that he isn't crazy, he just doesn't feel like saying goodbye to his dad.
  • Taking the Veil: Pili leaves become a nun!
  • Title Drop: Jose reminisces warmly about being young and catching four afternoons in a row of "sesion continuas"—"continuous sessions", or in idiomatic English "double features"—over a long weekend.
  • Write What You Know: In-Universe. Jose is a middle-aged man with a hot young love interest. He's writing a screenplay about a middle-aged man with a hot young love interest.

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