From Afar (2015) Poster

(2015)

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8/10
TIFF 2015 -- Desde Allá (From Afar): A long-distance relationship
Brap-217 September 2015
'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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10/10
Great movie. Very human narrative
colarusso-126 August 2016
This film is one of the best productions made in Latin America have seen in recent years. It shows clearly the loneliness and abandonment leading to attitudes often repulsive. The highly original narrative takes us to a completely unexpected outcome. In this aspect the film has a highly original narrative, nothing the usual story of an old man paying to have sex with a young man. Abandonment, loneliness, violence. The sad fact of everyday life. Excellent actors and an excellent pace of narrative to the end. The film even deserved all the awards he received. A masterpiece. I can not understand the criticism as negative other commentators. It's an intimate film with enormous human content. For those who live in Latin America like me it is clear that the director knows the violent environment of cities like Caracas. Great movie.
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9/10
Great story, complex characters, uncomplicated staging and direction allow the message to come through better
alan-337-71368216 October 2016
Life is complicated regardless of your income, education, or family. Everyone wants to be loved and sometimes that's difficult to show and receive. Through raw footage, spartan dialog and the very patient dissection of complex characters they learn to love and trust and to be worthy of both. But that doesn't mean life sorts itself out right away and just when things seem to be great, the plot twists in gut wrenching ways and roles reverse. That doesn't mean it ends well for all.

Contrary to the comments of another, I found the raw staging, brief dialog and lack of music (except when one would encounter it in real life) to greatly enhance the direction of the file. It takes a bit more patience to find yourself drawn into the story, but its so much more honest and lifelike.

The two lead actors were great... very empathetic. Kudos
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4/10
Good street scenes Caracas...dystopian gay film
peru-0270623 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This movie had 70 professional film critic reviews and 8 ordinary viewers. Tells you something there--namely that it is an art/film festival winner with little popular appeal.

I kept watching the movie for the street scenes of Caracas--as sort of a travel documentary into average city street life Venezuela. The theme of an older gay man (Armando) pursuing teenage rough trade was understandable if depressing....but then things turn and the pursued (Elder) becomes the pursuer.

I thought that however unlikely this scenario was it was finally a gay movie with a positive unlikely erotic outcome! Not one where one of the lovers dies or the mother of one of the gay men kills herself etc etc...

WRONG

After getting the dream relation Armando has always wanted he turns Elder in to the police after the latter kills his hated father. ???

Makes no sense of course....but then since when do technicians who make false teeth have endless supplies of cash? This is the occupation of Armando.

Yes yes it is full of symbolism (the names of the protagonists Armando (play on armed?) and Elder the teenager) and a jillion other film/story crafts and techniques to comment on....but this some how doesn't make up for the depressing story line. But it wins awards and provides fodder for all the reviewers.

DO NOT RECOMMEND....Yet another dystopian gay movie.
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2/10
art film that just fails to deliver anything at all
zzoaozz24 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The plot of the film starts out well enough, an older man with daddy issues that are never explained gets his rocks off literally by looking at the exposed backs and butts of boys he picks up on the street and pays. He never touches them, just looks. He keeps his house meticulously and appears to be obsessive compulsive, unable to express emotion, and to have an aversion to being touched. He also stalks the father he hates. Then he picks up a street punk who whacks him in the head and steals his money. He begins to stalk the heterosexual boy and finds he lives a violent life of poverty which eventually will end up with him badly beaten. He meets with him again and tells him that there is more money which he can have if he will keep him company. That's where it falls apart. The viewer would have been okay if the boy had slowly come around in response to father like kindness in a hurt/comfort manner. The viewer would have been okay if Armando had fallen into a one sided unrequited love with a straight boy. But one moment the boy is aggressively straight the next he is all over Armando who can't respond to him because of his touch aversion. The boy blames Armando's father and kills him. They finally have sex. Then Armando follows him to the store the next morning and calls the cops on him. It is possible that the plot twist was meant to be that Armando was setting up the murder of his father all along, but even so, the whole thing comes across as unbelievable. There are major holes in the believability. Probably biggest is why the heterosexual Elder would just suddenly want him enough to kill for him. There are plenty of others though. The older man shows almost no emotion though the entire film and the dialogue is barely there one liners. He follows his father and says once and only once that he wishes he was dead. Why would Elder draw the conclusion that his father was the source of his touch issues? He isn't a psychiatrist or even overly bright. Why turn him in when no one saw him and he even collected his brass? It just falls apart. It is billed as a romance/drama but there is no romance in it at all. It seems to be headed somewhere for a while and that is why I give it 2 but then it just meanders off and dies.
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5/10
Gritty and slow moving but worth it.
ty_lattimore200713 October 2017
I was not sure what to think about this film at first. It moves at a really slow pace. The two lead actors are amazing! They really save this movie from being a dud. I almost gave up about half way. It's hard to understand the motivation of the characters. The third act is what makes this movie stretch from mediocre to superb. Without spoiling anything it's worth the first two thirds of the movie just for the ending.
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8/10
A compelling character-driven story
ward124 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is a beautiful and complex film that explores ideas of masculinity, love, family, dependence, while at the same time portraying a disturbing picture of a society in which privilege and money can buy anything. The manipulative Armando has at some point obviously been a victim himself, but his cultivation and ultimate betrayal of the teenager Elder is, in the end, disturbing and gives the film a bleakness that is totally unexpected. It's a very powerful portrayal of two characters who you initially might think you understand, but the director manages to completely change your sympathies and turn everything on its head. The sparse dialogue helps create an emotional tension that's at the heart of this movie. Intriguing and compelling.
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8/10
a difficult film
rixdav11 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
There may seem to be vacancies in the story but on thought they will be filled in and much thought must be given to those vacancies . . . who was the father, did he sexually abuse his children, why did Elder's father kill his friend?

The ending is unusual, one may ask why, but our protagonist's lover was no romantic.

This movie is based on a story by Guillermo Arriaga who also wrote Babel, 21 Grams and Amores Perros.
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8/10
FROM AFAR intelligently excoriates the core of a cankerous male mentality concerning what constitutes the masculinity as we know it today
lasttimeisaw1 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Propitiously won Venice's Golden Lion in 2015, FROM AFAR, the debut feature of Venezuelan filmmaker Lorenzo Vigas, ostensibly purports as a queer relationship drama exploring the class discrepancy in a sink neighborhood of Caracas, when a middle-aged, well-off denture manufacturer Armando (Castro) pays a street yob Élder (Silva) to quench his libido.

But Armando has an unorthodox proclivity, physical contract is strictly off limits, he is perfectly satisfied by a distanced wank, echoing the title "from afar" (even no need of visual genital aids from a youthful body), as if he is both aroused and repulsed by a young man's body, which underlines his own troubled past, it is a transaction solely thrived on monetary terms. But Élder appears different from his usual biddable commodities, he is more recalcitrant, incandescent and restive, which challenges and intrigues Armando to take a different approach aiming to tame this beast, ergo, go-arounds of earning one-upmanship pan out in Vigas' self-contained narrative with staggering restraint and unrelieved elisions, for instance, the missing father is an obvious vacuum in both men's lives, but Vigas has no intention to expound what happened between Armando and his estranged father (sexual abuse?), without even a medium shot of the latter, what we see is only the action of Armando dogs him relentlessly, and coolly articulates that he wishes him dead.

Eventually, it is Élder's bruised dignity, inherent impressionability and have-nots status altogether that puts him on the back foot, after Armando's munificent gesture of rescuing him from bovver, paying off his debts and contest of superior manliness, Élder avails himself of physical capital (the only thing he possesses) to show his gratitude, but is rebuff with a slap in the face. At that point the balance tips towards Armando, he now has Élder completely at his beck and call, who finally find a father figure to fill that missing hole, yet to Armando, Élder is nothing but a perfect executioner of his long-gestated vengeance.

After that, Armando vouchsafes Élder the physical satisfaction the latter hankers for as a thank you, then throws him as a spent sidearm to the mercy of police force in the gritty finale (like father, like son, Élder ends up exactly like his own father), which even triggers viewers to second-guess the verity of the man we assume as Armando's father, a telltale shot of both men in an elevator shows no apparent recognition from a father to his son might suggest the older man could be a target Armando is assigned to rub out, a theory supported by him being the same killer from Pablo Larraín's TONY MANERO, also played by Alfredo Castro with a peculiar gusto of perversity, and this time, he cunningly finds him a perfect whipping boy.

Castro gives an unforgiving, enigmatic impression as a victim-turned-victimizer out of a vicious cycle passing from fathers to sons, who is capable of projecting a soul-searching gaze that is smolderingly pregnant with manifold rays of emotions. Youngster Luis Silva, on the contrary, invests a throbbing directness that salts the masculine tug-of-war with his own macho swagger, perplex and conflict, vividly. Habitually playing up with his in focus/out of focus perspective, Vigas makes a big splash with FROM AFAR by intelligently excoriating the core of a cankerous male mentality concerning what constitutes the masculinity as we know it today, a scope well above his genderqueer front and accomplished with a refined difference.
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1/10
From Afar
el_ltd28 March 2016
I am not going to describe the plot of the film as you have read that in other reviews and in the film synopsis. This film was recently shown in London and I really wonder who writes the reviews for such movies or even worse who are the bodies who give them prices in some festivals...It was a disaster, the audience was packed and in the first 40 minutes within the movie I noticed people leaving the auditorium. I was feeling the same but I was in a middle place so I decided to endure. They did have a good plot for a film but there was no script, all monosyllabic interventions and the worst of silence in movies is NO MUSIC. How important to have some back music to enhance a silence. But silence, no dialogues and no music all the time, becomes soporific. Literally at times it felt that I was watching a security camera recording. There was no acting, apart from the face expressions of the main characters in certain scenes, well difficult to act if you have nothing to say most of the time...The message in that movie could have been better portrayed: a sad middle age gay man confused and frustrated with his own life and the way he dealt with his sexual desires, together with young men desperate to make a living in a horrid "machista" society with no hopes for a better financial future. From a technical point of view the camera angles and the focus did not work as intended, you can sense that if you are familiar with the technicalities of movie making. Whoever was in charge of the camera did a LOUSY job. I would not recommend it, but is a clear example of a BAD MOVIE, which will only be remembered, if, for the punishment caused to viewers.
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about loneliness
Kirpianuscus31 March 2019
A film who I love. Maybe, for impecable Armando of Alfredo Castro. Or , because, as teacher, I know many Elders like the character of Luis Silva. It is not a comfortable film. But an useful one for atmosphere, high craft, for dialogue, reactions and the clash between two different worlds. And, more important, it is support for reflect about loneliness in contemporary world. Short, a great work. Simple, profound, stormy , cold and precise in each detail, giving more than it seems do.
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1/10
Disappointing!!! Weak and Obscure Storyline.
AdityaChaphekar30 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The movie was released in India in the MAMI film festival. Much to my excitement, this was the first movie I watched. The story is about a middle aged man and teenager and their little conversation in the entire movie. There are unnecessary shots of intimacy as well. The movie is slow,dragged and is vague. The climax makes it even worse. There is no connection between the characters(like Elder's girlfriend or hookup friend whoever she was) and with no background score and indeed few dialogues makes the film boring to watch. The climax doesn't reveal anything. When the film is cryptic or obscure, the audience expects a decent finish where everything shown in the movie could be related.
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2/10
Unpredictable| Discontented| Keep it afar|
shashankmistry13 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Unfortunately, I decided to watch this movie in the bout of Mumbai Film Festival at the cost of the other far more appealing movies. 'From afar' asserts the eminent maxim: Appearances are deceiving. This movie is an utter waste of time with no particular message and keeps you discontented and gives one the reason to believe that something is wrong with the movie. The movie starts with the lead actor i.e. Armando stalking vulnerable guys Willy-nilly with an intention to bring them home and fulfill his desire of watching the naked back of men from strict distance. By the way, he's not gay; No! He just has a peculiar knack of pleasure by doing that. Eventually he meets the other lead actor, Elder who also happens to be a violent guy in street gang. Armando despite having violent encounters with Elder and non accomplishment of the penultimate motive with which Elder had been invited and paid; continues to pursue Elder. At some point Armando looks after Elder when he learns that Elder has been injured by some street fights which causes Elder to be intimate with Armando. Throughout the movie, Armando is shown to stalk an old guy intermittently with no specific reason. Elder, then as a gesture of payback kills the old man having a notion that its the only thing Armando wants. The movie is just meant to keep it afar from the audience!
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1/10
Really bad — it deserves little attention
mediatext6 March 2016
After seeing this incomparably BAD Venezuelan movie today at the Miami Film Festival I couldn't understand how it could have ever won the Golden Lion (main prize) at the Venice Film Festival 2015, unless the members of the jury had been drugged or were profoundly drunk. I went and searched to see who had been the members of the jury and found the answer right away: Alfonso Cuarón was the president, and in movie festivals the selection of the president is decisive. Cuarón just wanted to favor a Latinamerican director, that was all. This TERRIBLE film is defective from all points of views, and it would not even pass a Cinema 101 exam. That's probably the reason why it has been shown in a few festivals but it hasn't had regular distribution, and the opinion of the critics has not been very helpful to it. On top of all that it is incredibly boring... Go at your own risk.
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5/10
Miserable masochist revenge fantasy
hellocrocodile27 March 2018
An old-guy-meets-young-guy love story, er, hate story, perhaps. In their first encounter, Armando, the old one, promises money to Elder, the young one, in exchange for removing his clothes while he masturbates. Elder is a supposedly-straight homophobe who wails the older, gay man in the face, leaving him passed out on the floor while he steals his wallet. That's their first "date". Then they keep coming back to each other for more.

On the positive side, the acting is not half bad, especially from the young lead. He completely filled his character's shoes, right down to the body language. It didn't feel like he was acting at all. When he was supposed to be an asshole, he was a total asshole and then some. No matter how absurd the idea of his chemistry with Armando, his portrayal of unbridled passion was still shockingly convincing. The role of Armando does not require nearly as much acting by comparison. He mainly makes the same hollow face for the entire film, indicating that he just feels terrible all the time. There is nuance to both of the main characters which makes you simultaneously hate, pity, and maybe even root for them, capturing quite honestly at times the complexity of human nature and self-inflicted suffering.

All the while the characters are exploiting one another, there is never a single moment or conversation that indicates a genuine mutual interest or respect has developed between them. Suddenly, romance appears to blossom out of a couple of drinks, which I found highly unbelievable given the characters' demeanors. Armando doesn't smile even when, against all odds, he gets what he's been dreaming of. Their mere togetherness suggests perpetual self-loathing on behalf of both characters, as they ultimately can't seem to resist hurting each other.

An interesting change develops in one of the characters towards the latter part of the film, but then the story ends abrubtly and disappointingly. The lack of music in the end credits and the muted color palette perfectly exemplify the sense of emptiness one gets from the film in general.

I was hoping for and somewhat expecting a different outcome. The story's arc does not seem based in reality. The characters, Elder in particular, frequently seem guided by an unseen hand that makes them do things real people probably wouldn't do. The overall product manifests like an intoxicated, angry, revenge fantasy in which a homophobic man gets his comeuppance, but not before first being objectified and salivated over like he's a piece of meat. If you're not already bitter, you might want to avoid watching this cold-hearted film.
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