With five acclaimed indie features under his belt, Argentine director/writer Marco Berger (Taekwondo, Plan B, Hawaii) delivers his latest exploration of the male psyche, The Blond One.
The film, which premiered at Sydney’s Mardi Gras Film Festival in February and took home the prize for Best LGBTQ Film at the Molodist International Film Festival, is a testament to the power of understated performances. Berger confidently relies on artful silences between the two protagonists to draw dramatic tension.
Set in Buenos Aires, Gabriel (Gastón Re) and Juan (Alfonso Barón) are coworkers who become roommates when Juan invites Gabriel to rent a spare bedroom in his flat.
As their living situation progresses, one furtive glance leads to another, there’s an occasional brush of a hand, and even though Juan’s multiple girlfriends casually come and go, the attraction between the two men becomes palpable.
Latin machismo battles visceral sexual attraction as the film circles around latent romantic possibilities.
The two men are ultimately drawn into a physical connection, but both then have to search themselves to understand what their mutual captivation means to them.
Juan, apparently bisexual, seems to set his sights on Gabriel early on. But his alpha male mindset leads him to put walls up and delineate roles by offering macho statements like, “Don’t make me explain myself like you were my girlfriend,” to a puppy dog-eyed Gabriel.
Sensitive, single father Gabriel (the mother of his daughter passed away some time ago) seems to quietly identify as gay. From the beginning of the film, he seems emotionally injured, seemingly on the search for something to help anchor him.
Whether or not that ends up to be Juan, you’ll have to check out the film to find out.
The subtle, heartfelt performances – brimming with sexual tension – are intimate, honest and emotionally raw. With minimal dialogue, the two actors tell much of the story through their deeply expressive eyes and body language.
The Blond One is currently playing a weeklong run at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles with a home video release to follow.
In Spanish with English subtitles – running time 111 minutes.
(all photos courtesy of TLA Releasing)