Finally, a coming-of-age film that has the courage to present the terrors and fears of self-discovery in a thoughtful, seemingly incoherent fashion, comes to the screen. Like real life, there are moments of boredom and confusion but those only serve to heighten the impact of action: torrid (the climactic three-way bathroom scene sears as much for what is allowed to be as what isn’t) and reflective (soliloquies over unrelated footage strengthen both).
In his début feature, writer/director Alexis Dos Santos brings together a cast and crew that share his vision. While there are three principals, this film is most certainly a study of Lucas (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart). Biscayart digs into the role with honesty and readily believable twin-desires to get laid and write a hit song. His two-handed self-release sets the stage for his pursuit of deep-tongue kisses (whether bearded or not); the conviction with which he sings “Desert between my legs/make me wet” as his band (Nacho on drums) performs an early gig, is as convincing as it is laden with rasp and suspicious pitch.
The deliberately amateurish boy band is deftly matched by Natasha Braier’s cinematography and a duo of editors (Ingrid Bregninge and Alexis Dos Santos). Using filters, hand-held capture and frequent loss of focus (when sniffing inordinate amounts of glue, doesn’t your world become a little fuzzy?), jump cuts and moments of black screen, the film has a marvellous home-movie feel that complements and reinforces the uneven pace.
The objects of Lucas’ lust are Nacho (Nahuel Viale, the weak link in terms of acting, but sporting a physique that is worthy of prey) and Andrea (Inés Efron, whose own search for physical love springs to life in her solos). Curiously, the undercurrent of man-to-man vs. man-to-woman sex, compared with so many other threesome flicks (cross-references below) becomes more of an afterthought than drama-inducing plot point.
While his parents try to sort out their tormented lives (past infidelities are being forgiven), Lucas arranges to spend a weekend in his unfaithful father’s vacant flat. Nacho readily agrees to come along, Andrea bails at the last moment. The boys wrestle their way up the stairwell then settle in to gorge themselves on glue (Dad’s an architect so there’s lots of model glue available) while watching porn on TV. Not surprisingly, greedy hands slip into boxers and briefs in search of variety from their usual suspects. Hours later, the young men wake up—Nacho has a moment of recoil and abruptly departs.
In so many films, this rebuff drives the temporarily beloved to acts of anguish and despair. Here, before you can say “I must have been drunk,” Lucas and Nacho are happily beating out rhythms instead of themselves.
Once again Dos Santos risks losing his audience who have come to expect what so many others have done before: some will tune out. But for those who realize that life isn’t like the movies, they’ll stay until the film runs out, happy to have been treated to more truth than convenient fabrication. JWR