a film by Antonio Hens
2007 | 80 mins | Spain
›› Clandestinos
a raging tale of terrorism, served with gay twist
Clandestinos by Antonio Hens Fans of the Spanish short film En malas compañías / Doors Cut Down will be delighted that both director and stars of the show Israel Rodríguez, Pablo Puyol and Juanma Lara are reunited in this raging tale of terrorism, served with gay twist.

For breaking out of juvenile detention was just the start of a ride on life’s rollercoaster for street wise Xabi, intent as he is on rekindling his special bond with wanted Basque separatist Iñaki. Not that his best friend Joel is aware of Xabi’s hidden agenda, preferring instead to get intimately acquainted with a couple of local girls, well one of them at least, unlike Moroccan immigrant Driss who has found in Xabi a friendship of the ‘brothers in arms’ variety.

Only upon their arrival in Madrid, Xabi and Driss are soon back to their old breaking and entering ways, thereafter turning an empty apartment into a homemade bomb making factory in Xabi’s increasingly desperate bid to secure the attention of a man, apt at not returning his phone calls. Yet when their amateur efforts unknowingly disrupt the calculated campaign of ETA, is Xabi’s ride about to come to an abrupt end?

Clandestinos by Antonio Hens With the obvious exception of such features as the like of Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game and Bruce LaBruce’s The Raspberry Reich, few directors have mixed acts of terrorism with a love story, be it gay, straight or otherwise. Only not content with playing with these unlikely bedfellows, co-writer and director Antonio Hens has added a relationship drama between men of vastly differing ages.

That Israel Rodríguez as Xabi sees in Iñaki a mentor-like figure, goes without saying. Only it is Juan Luis Galiardo as senior police officer Germán who the film belongs to, having become entwined in Xabi’s terrorist plans when his trick for the night turns out more troublesome, than his usual pic ’n’ mix of the local boys hustling their way through life and here cue underused Doors Cut Down ‘hot mechanic’ Pablo Puyol.

Along the way, Hens has walked the difficult tightrope of injecting comical overtones into his cinematic Molotov cocktail, spiked as-it-is with the sexual yearnings of adolescent youth, a set of flashbacks to aid narrative development, let alone a poignant reminder of how easily impressionable young men can be conditioned into carrying out acts of terrorism. Only the terrorist agenda is not what this film is about. Rather at heart, this is a work about the search for love and friendship and how two men of opposing backgrounds and indeed years, ultimately come to care for each other. And yet for all of its positives, here Hens somehow fails to deliver the sheer homoerotic energy of his noted short, with gay visibility clearly on the low side by comparison. Then again, it does come with full frontal male nudity and put it this way, that wasn’t just a gun in Rodríguez’ pocket. Enough said.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue: 19.April.2010 / UK.
starring: Israel Rodríguez, Mehroz Arif, Inma Cuevas, Luis Hostalot, Hugo Catalán, Pepa Aniorte,
Ana Rayo, Manuel Salas, Asunción Ayllón, Antonio Salazar with Juanma Lara,
Antonio Dechent, Juan Luis Galiardo and Pablo Puyol as Lucas.
official site: www.clandestinos.es
Copyright 2010 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #267
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