Nightwatch

Ronda Nocturna

4 stars out of five
by S. James Wegg
Publish Date: November 1, 2010
Reviewed for the 2006 Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival
Raising the dead one trick at a time

Thanks to director/writer Edgardo Cozarinsky’s inventive mind, spending the night with sex-trade worker Victor (the ever-sultry Gonzalo Heredia successfully carries the film from the opening parade of men-for-hire through the quiet relief of early morning sunshine) is a fascinating study of the imagination fuelled by sex, drugs and uncertain memory.

While Victor’s various sexual encounters drive much of the dialogue-light narrative (Javier Miquelez’s cinematography acts like a leading character as it artfully brings texture and tone to the screen, subliminally reinforcing the marvellous feeling of unreality battling truth), Cozarinsky also works in the plight of Buenos Aires homeless: those who work the streets and those living on them struggle for survival in many different ways.

The first trick is instructive. A twice-a-week freebie with a police inspector guarantees the hero’s safety even as their regular coupling satisfies the elder man’s lust. Sadly for both, the protector’s desire is threatening to turn into love. As the camera pulls back once the back-seat encounter finishes its mercifully quick course (Victor’s schedule is full this night), the gleaming Mercedes can be seen sharing the dark underpass with those who call the dingy piece of public land home. Even as that image settles into consciousness, the majestic spire of an adjacent cathedral completes the frame and the subtext with nary a word required.

The evening in question begins on All Saints Day; tellingly, the literal turn of the calendar in a pool hall ushers in the growing unease of All Souls Day as midnight tolls. Before arriving to get a bit of rest, the affable rent boy has plied his craft in an exclusive gymnasium, teasingly reached into his well-filled boxers to grab a bag of cocaine as part of his retail sideline (that set-up is beautifully done, frustrating all of those who might have expected a more personal item to pop into view), picked up some loot at a diplomat’s upscale digs and finally ended up in a modest bathhouse having recreational sex with long-lost friend Mario (Rafael Ferro engages, delights and surprises with consummate skill).

Yet throughout this singular journey there’s a feeling of dread. Is Victor in danger or being followed? Did he witness a scorned lover’s murder? Have past transgressions risen from the grave to cause his own demise? Who is Cecilia? (The late-inning, yet dominant woman’s role is delivered with just the right amount of mystery by Mariana Anghileri.)

Especially welcome is Carlos Franzetti’s tango-rich score. What better sort of music could there be to accompany the virtually endless display of passion, peril and possessiveness? Subtly, the requisite rose is replaced by a blood-red carnation, which once again, adds to the overarching aura of what might be expected and what actually occurred. Or did it? JWR

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