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Armando, a middle-aged owner of a Caracas dental prosthesis business, is estranged from his father, who he observes occasionally from a distance. He finds a young man of the streets who negotiates a fee high enough for the boy to be used to provide Armando's masturbatory object. Although a following encounter ends in a beating for Armando, he continues to make the boy dependent. What is the final result that Armando desires? Is it something more than a conflicted relationship with a hustler?Written by
TIFF 2015 -- Desde Allá (From Afar): A long-distance relationship
'Desde Allá' (From Afar) slowly and carefully brings you into the world of Armando, a wealthy loner who spends his free time coercing Caracas street gang youths to go back to his apartment so he can enjoy their company while pleasuring himself. He finds Elder, another street youth, who he runs into trouble with at first, but eventually end up bonding to the point that their relationship becomes physical.
In terms of both Armando and Elder's chemistry, it's nothing to rave on about. Because they are such opposites, it's easy to see how they clash, but that's as far as it goes. It's more of a strange encounter because they are such different people, especially Elder, who starts off the film as being vehemently homophobic but oddly changes after some time with a very limited showing of affection and care.
The film, which recently won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, goes about its storytelling by long tracking shots or stationary frames that have a lot happening inside of them. Very little dialogue is exchanged, but looks and actions speak louder than words in this picture. While it keeps the suspense a bit on the up, others might want consistent dialogue, which this film doesn't have.
The film should be praised for several things: talking about a taboo subject in a country like Venezuela, and showing the issues that are happening in the country, which includes the long lineups for basic necessities and consistent criminal activity.
Without writing spoilers, what really makes this film is the ending. It's fairly open- ended, and it's a bit shocking to say the least. During the TIFF Q&A, Directory Lorenzo Vigas was rather inquisitive of the audience, trying to find out what they thought the ending was about. Not all films should provide the necessary answers for the viewer, but good films allow for interaction and further interpretation.
On a further note, this film was NOT selected by Venezuela as its Best Foreign Film selection for the upcoming Academy Awards. I'm not sure if this has to do with the topic. I haven't seen the actual selection 'Gone with the River' (Lo que lleva el río), so I can't comment. However, it seems odd that this film, which is showing at several world film festivals, and was in competition for the Golden Lion — and won — was NOT Venezuela's official selection.
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