Martin, a young Argentine student, is exploring the reactions of his sports coach, Sebastian, while vying for his love and affection. He has an opportunity - one night to push the envelope ... See full summary »
Martin, a young Argentine student, is exploring the reactions of his sports coach, Sebastian, while vying for his love and affection. He has an opportunity - one night to push the envelope and be as close as ever to reaching what he so desperately wants. With his teacher keeping him off at a distance, but at the same time being so kind and nurturing, Martin continues to inch further and further towards crossing the line. But, with all the twists and turns of love, life, and personas, Martin finds himself on the wrong side of the line, and Sebastian finds himself with more regret than Martin could have ever imagined. Written by
I loved Plan B so much that I immediately started looking for other movies by Marco Berger, its writer/director, and this movie is what I found. Rather, I found its title and a brief description - finding the movie itself was a much greater challenge. It took several months and some clumsy use of Google Translate to make my own English subtitles, but I'm happy to say that it was worth all that trouble and more. Hopefully by the time most people read this review this marvelous movie will be readily available on DVD with English subtitles.
Anyone who loved Plan B probably will love Ausente too. This is a much more polished and professional production, and it is set in a much more upscale environment than Plan B's rather grungy world of working-class Buenos Aires; but it shows the same steady and confident hand, the same refusal to employ melodrama or tired stereotypes, the same dedication to character development over action that made Plan B so satisfying.
Ausente is the story of a 16-year-old boy who has a crush on his swimming coach, a straight man in his mid-thirties. Most online descriptions of this movie sensationalize the story in (I assume) a misguided attempt to drum up interest in it: saying that it is a thriller, as if the boy is a stalker, reckless in his pursuit of the man, threatening to sabotage his job and his future, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This is a lovely, gentle, very understated and subtle story. It is even gentler than Plan B is, and its gentleness is what I loved most about that movie. The boy in Ausente is considerate and respectful, and although he manipulates situations in an attempt to get closer to the man, he never threatens, never behaves any more irresponsibly than any teenage boy would and a lot more responsibly than most.
There is not one scary scene, not one melodramatic or sensational or prurient or exploitative scene in this lovely movie. There is no stalker, no predator or victim; no one is ever in any kind of danger. In a sense, nothing much even happens: the boy tricks the man into letting him stay a night in his apartment, and there is fairly dramatic erotic tension during that night as the boy longs for something to happen. This is a movie about feelings, about a deep, strong attraction, not about actions. If you need action, avoid this movie like the plague.
That's probably why this wonderful movie is slow finding distribution and may never see distribution in the US - it's not violent and sensational enough. It's a slow, quiet, gentle, beautiful movie that pays off in emotional depth, not action and noise and sleaze. In other words, it's about as far from Hollywood as a movie can be.
If the boy WERE a stalker, if the coach WERE threatened, then Ausente not only might be available on DVD now but might even be up for a Hollywood remake. My sincere hope is that some small distributor will discover this gem and make it available to those of us who love movies like this.
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