Film #214: From Afar (2015)

desdeallaaka: Desde allá
director: Lorenzo Vigas
language: Spanish
length: 93 minutes
watched on: 16 July 2016
(Rainbow Reel Tokyo – 5/6)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

I think the first thing I noticed when I went into this movie, the same day as the last movie, is that the screen was much wider than usual – turns out it’s shot in one of these super widescreen formats and it really is wider than usual. It was the first of many discomforting things of the screening. The movie doesn’t shy away from using the entire frame, which meant that my eyes were often jumping around. I don’t envy the Japanese members of the audience, who probably had to try and divert their gaze to the far right just to see the vertically-displayed subtitles.

The movie is from Venezuela – perhaps the first movie I’ve seen from that country. It’s set in the capital, against a backdrop of poverty. The first main character is an older man who cruises for young men, seemingly for sex. In fact he takes them back to his apartment, makes them strip, and then jerks off. Creepy for sure, but pretty tame.

I think creepy sums up a lot of the movie, to be honest. The camera has a very selective focus, despite having such a wide frame: it often focuses on only one thing, leaving the rest of the frame blurred out. Frequently the subject of its focus is the back of someone’s head as we follow them around, at once claustrophobic and voyeuristic.

The second main character is one of the young guys he cruises, who realizes that the man is a second-rate perv, beats him up and runs off with the money. This seems to spur the man on further and their lives get more entangled and codependent, despite all the obvious homophobia on the younger guy’s lips at the beginning of the movie.

So many words are left unspoken in this movie, and that got annoying and trite. The man doesn’t really speak much, and there are extended sequences with only awkward or no conversation. I kind of found this self-indulgent, and that the movie dragged a bit, despite not being particularly long. I did enjoy the tension, at the same time, and after I got used to the unique cinematographic style, I enjoyed that too. Basically it has merits, and if artsy South American movies about poverty and homophobia suit you, with a healthy serving of tension and intrigue, I’d recommend it. But you also have to be happy to watch an hour and a half of navel-gazing, and characters who really should just talk about their feelings honestly.

One Response to Film #214: From Afar (2015)

  1. Pingback: Book #108: The Devotion of Suspect X (2005) | reuoq

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