›› Men of Hard Skin - Hombres de Piel Dura ‹‹

a film by José Celestino Campusano.

2019 | 96 mins | Argentina.

the ramifications of sexual abuse by those who preach the word of God.

Dave says:

From writer and director José Celestino Campusano comes a film of wasted opportunities. For on paper this should have been one of the best Argentine films of the year. That of the controversial story of gay teen Ariel (Wall Javier); namely a young man who has been repeatedly sexually assaulted by neighbourhood priest Omar (Germán Tarantino), only for the boy to keep coming back for more, hoping that in between the off-screen sex, a relationship may follow. Yet Omar is a man who cannot keep his cassock tied, assaulting one teenager after another, only to escape to the nearest religious retreat when the facts of his sexual proclivities threaten to surface.

Little then did he expect Ariel to come calling, raising eyebrows from the clergy around him and more than a knowing look for an older priest of the same disposition; if now repentant. Sending Ariel packing faster than you can say a prayer to the Virgin Mary, Ariel returns to the family farm dejected, but soon to find comfort in the arms and body of local farmhand Julio (Juan Salmieri); a fact that his intolerant father Pablo (Claudio Medina) becomes all too aware of, firing Julio with a bloody beating. Now seemingly alone in life and love and with Pablo determined to turn his son straight whatever it takes, is it possible for Ariel to find something more meaningful, than just sex?

Frankly; who cares? For sadly Javier does not have the screen presence to carry off the lead role, forever drifting from scene to scene, along the way letting his body do the talking. And that's a shame, as it leaves others having to fill the acting void that a work of this nature is crying out for, with Medina stepping forward to striking effect, unable to cope with his son's incessant desire for man-sex. Thankfully amid all of the rampant lust to be found, lies the outstretched hand of human compassion in the form of Camila Diez as Ariel's loving sister Betina and in a somewhat comical turn Malena Majul Lieun as Zulma; a local girl hired for Ariel's pleasure, only to end up becoming his best friend.

That the narrative shines the spotlight on sexual abuse and how such has been / is knowingly covered up by the Church, is to Campusano's credit. Yet at the end of the day, this is an odd, if sensuous mix of pathos and porno, as Ariel's clear struggle to replace years of sexual assault with love and affection, is intercut with hook-ups of the "and then suddenly all my clothes fell off" variety.

The result is a work laced with a number of narrative turns that do nothing for the film, other than add to its running time, having wasted its potential to be a meaningful cinematic testament to the ramifications on those subjected to sexual abuse by those who preach the word of God, but habitually seek absolution for their sins. Enough said.

›› available as part of the TLA RELEASING catalogue: 14th October, 2019 / UK.
›› posted: Thursday, 14th April, 2022.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - the full monty | Overall - file under ... 2 stars

›› copyright © 2022 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
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