Started in 2007 to keep a track of gay films that I watched, this blog has come much further than I had planned. There are tons of movies that I need to watch and review here. Through this blog, I want to give you genuine, my personal heart-felt review of the films that I see. These are my personal thoughts and opinions about the films and I would love to hear your thoughts on these films as well. I always reply to comments in a day or two. Please help me make my blog more popular by becoming a member, following it and by recommending it to your friends. As far as I know this is one of the very very few gay movie review blogs where reviews are not linked or copy-paste imdb summary. Enjoy and do keep writing your feedback.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

José (Spanish)

There are probably only a handful LGBTQ films that have come out of Guatemala. A tragedy of unfulfilled aspirations as a result of widespread homophobia and emotional blackmail, this film feels very real, like as if you are prying on someone's private life. You feel sad for José, but you can also connect with his dilemma.

José lives with his mother at a poor area. Both him and his mother are working hard to make ends meet. In between his work, José makes time to live out his sexuality in secret through gay hook-up apps. He knows its not acceptable by society and he tries to keep it as alienated as possible. Things change when he meets Luis. There is connection at all levels. Straight acting, poor, hard working guys, leading a double life. Love starts forming because they understand each other and its only together that they can heal each other scars. They are happy when they are together, but when Luis proposes that José leave the city to come with him to start a life together, he cannot do that to his mother. He cannot leave her alone. And bang, Luis is out of his life. Heart broken José, continues with his life meeting other guys, one of them from a rich family, even offering to help José but he cant leave his mother alone. The mother knows about her son, but here is no over the top drama. She just prays to Jesus to keep her son safe. Eventually José moves to her grandmother's home for work and to support family. He is lonely, very lonely. He even travels to Luis' village in hopes to find him, but he never does. José's future when it comes to love doesn't look very good.

The thing that stays with you after the film is completed is the brilliant acting by the lead actor. He utters few words and doesn’t perform any outbursts; what’s required of him is an unfazed façade, even when his chances at happiness have vanished time and again. No tears leave his eyes, ever. He is just brilliant. Slight changes from a boyish look in the beginning to having facial hair in latter half, is a masterstroke to also show the pain and agony he is living inside. I am not sure how many people will actually connect with the fact that José cant just leave his mother for selfish reasons of love. Asia and latin America, as cultures, are very family oriented and its very rarely anyone will put someone above their family, rich or poor. The relationship of José and Luis was shown so beautifully. They may not have money, but they how to be happy with each other. They are happiest when together riding on a motorcycle or in motel rooms caressing each other’s skin. I am not sure what happened with Luis, when he suddenly leaves without José, but I wish there was a bit more clarity around that. The direction, screenplay and everything is brilliant. The way, the sections of Guatemala city are captured, are just wonderful. You feel you are a part of the hustle and bustle of the city and are in there with the characters. I loved the fact that even though the film focussed on harshness of life of a poor gay Guatemalan man, they didn't go into gay bashing or anything. The film uses less of dialogues and more of imagery that often leaves it to the viewer to decipher certain story points, while relying on imagery to do the rest.

It's very understandable, how someone like José who is growing up in poverty and intolerance will be confused on what he wants from life. A small film with its heart in the right places. A touching tribute to the harsh life and its realities. I just wish parts of it were not so slow at certain points. (6.5/10)

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