FC@Berlin 2019, Dispatch 8 – A devastating “pray the gay away” drama

Posted on February 15, 2019


Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/berlin-film-festival-2019-review-jayro-bustamante-temblores-ruchir-joshi-baradwaj-rangan/

Plus, Kolkata tales, movie-watching in Sudan, and eroto-religious sci-fi.

The festival brochure has this to say about Jayro Bustamante’s Temblores: “Pablo falls in love with Francisco and leaves his devout evangelical family in Guatemala City.” That’s not quite true. We don’t see where and when and how Pablo — who looks to be in his early forties, with stylishly graying hair — “falls in love”. There are no darting glances, there’s no first date. Instead, the film opens with Pablo’s (Juan Pablo Olyslager) family gathered in the living room, as he strides past them and locks himself in his bedroom. They know about Francisco. They want Pablo to snap out of it, as is evident from their grim pronouncements through the course of the film. His father says, “A solid family is all that matters.” His mother says, “You just have to ask for God’s help.” His wife says, “I know deep down you are not like this.”

But she’s wrong. Pablo is gay. He is also religious. His gay side comes out, so to speak, when he leaves home, to be with the lower-class, more laidback Francisco (Mauricio Armas Zebadua). And his Catholic upbringing comes out when he begins to have doubts. (Francisco is far more comfortable with his sexuality.) His wife gets him fired from his job. She prevents him from seeing his children. His mother pushes him towards some kind of religious conversion therapy, so he can be saved from being “in the valley of shadow of death”. (Nature, meanwhile, is amping up the drama with downpours and tremors.) But it’s not just all this pressure from Pablo’s family. It’s also that he begins to wonder if it’s worth being gay (in the “happy” sense of the word as well) if this results in the unhappiness of everyone dear to him.

Continued at the link above.

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