At the end of the 19th century, Ignacio de la Torre married the daughter of the president of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz. Ignacio leads a double life: he rises in the traditional world of politics while being a member of a clandestine society.
Based on the Ball of the Forty-One which was a society scandal in early 20th-century Mexico. The incident revolved around an illegal police raid carried out in November 1901 in a private home in Mexico City. The scandal revolved around that that of the group of men who attended, 19 were dressed in "feminine" clothing. Despite the government's efforts to hush the incident up, the press was keen to report the incident, since the participants belonged to the upper echelons of society (including the son-in-law of the incumbent President of Mexico). This scandal was unique in that it was the first time homosexuality was openly spoken about in the Mexican media and had a lasting impact on Mexican culture.
The film was released on Netflix in 2021. See more »
The opening credits start with the technical and production people. The actors just appear on the closing credits. See more »
It's not often I sit through the credits at the end of a film. Usually I'm up and out of the armchair to make a cup of tea or whatever. This film was different and the ending was mundane but devastating for the viewer and the main male character.
The film is a heavily fictionalised version of a real event, that of a police raid on a party held by high society homosexuals. Ignacio de la Torre, the son-in-law of the then President, was meant to have been one of the participants. This much is known to history and from IMDB's résumé. From these bare bones, a whole film is woven as a prelude to the raid.
Ignacio holds a high position in society partly through his own wealth and partly through the patronage of his wife's father. Some things about his true life are known, that he and his wife led separate lives, for example, and were only together in public; in private they occupied different wings of their mansion. From this gossamer thread a love story emerges that may not even be true - we cannot be sure that Evaristo Rivas had a relationship with Ignacio or was even present when the ball was busted as the names of the participants were withheld. It doesn't matter. A whole, tender story of forbidden love is recounted by the film, a love that is unacknowledgeable in Mexican society at the time.
The film doesn't hold back. It shows the horror of a gay man trying to sleep with his wife. It shows the hatred that slowly grows out of resentment on both sides of a chaste marriage. It shows how happiness can be shattered in an instant by bigotry and ignorance.
The two male leads were stupendous and didn't skimp their roles. Those kisses were real. Their glances, their interaction, their physical moments together were the opposite of contrived. Mabel Cadena playing Amada, Ignacio's wife, visibly aged during her time of calvary. Her face and bearing changed convincingly from those of a pretty young bride to those of a bitter and spurned woman.
The sets and costumes were magnificent. I actually wondered if some of the scenes were filmed in real buildings, so convincing were the locations. The minor characters, even, were somewhat fleshed out rather than simply being drivers of the plot.
I loved this film and would recommend it.
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