The theme of coming to terms with one’s sexuality is as old as storytelling, just not nearly as “hidden” or subliminal in modern times. In The Blonde One, director-writer Marco Berger has done a masterful job of painting the picture of two men drawn to each other like the proverbial moth to the flame.
The scenes are shot and staged at a heavenly pace (no doubt sending some to the exits before the first real kiss half-an-hour in), and its sparse dialogue forces the actors and the camera to fire on all silent cylinders to keep the flow moving steadily forward. To relieve the unbearability of too much quiet, the chatter from an unseen television fills the void for the apartment encounters while a conveniently turned up radio in a pivotal café one-sided, heart-to-unwilling-heart “chat” adds just the right antidote for this unlikely couple’s tension.
Copious amounts of beer are utilized to give the principals somewhere to go—conveniently out of ear shot—and decidedly erotic foreplay as if “go for a beer?” might be code for “let’s get naked”—everything in its time!
Music also plays an important role, and, like the dialogue, its few appearances make every bar more telling than if there was 10 times more. The solo piano original score from Pedro Irusta (with strings slipping in for the credits) provides just the right reinforcement of longing, bewilderment, love and quiet resolve in their four appearances. A few pop songs also add depth to the various situations via their lyrics (e.g., “Don’t you forget we are the same” ushering in the first coupling).
At the heart of it all is the fair-haired Gabriel (Gaston Re has the required good looks, sexual appeal and, most importantly, a true mastery of body language—wearing clothes or not). The tragic widower has a precocious, very young daughter (Malena Irusta is a real find, especially in the extended scene with “Gabo” as she effortlessly delivers Berger’s back-story), checkered past, knowingly marrying a woman while his desires were for men. Note: What fun that one of Gabriel’s nicknames is “Gabo”, kindling the notion of gabby (which is not the case except for a few revealing moments), while the other (largely used by his friends and co-workers), “Dummy” doesn’t mean stupid, but, rather, must be short for “dumb mute.”
One of Gabo’s workmates is the well-furred Juan (definitely as in Don Juan). Alfonso Barón serves up the lecherous part with unabashed aplomb and unashamed revelations in the sex scenes that have a lot of heat, but come nowhere anything like porn. Vociferously going both ways in order to cover his true predilection for the same sex, Gabo’s landlord (a very convenient plot point for the overall narrative) torments his quiet lover-with-whiskers by bedding “beard” women in full view (well, with a wall in-between of his beer-swigging amigos).
As the relationship develops, Berger sets up what could well be called “A Ballet of Eyes”. Whether commuting to work on the metro, sitting on the couch with a crowd, or savouring still another beer on the roof, the physical chemistry between the two men is palatable and makes the deliberate pace a marvellous cinematic piece of long-lived, sustained foreplay.
But, of course, hidden-away relationships are fraught with peril. Both men end up dealing with trying to have it both ways: professing love for women, and sleeping with men for true satisfaction and “proof” of who they really are.
A viewing is heartily recommended—especially for those amongst us who have sat or are currently sitting on the fence of inner truth versus carnal convenience. JWR