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El Sexo De Los Ángeles - 2012



Whilst exploring online for some new European movies to watch, I quite chanced on El Sexo De Los Ángeles. The poster seemed rather enticingly old school and therefore I followed the link to IMDB. As I hadn’t seen many films in this genre other than Drei by Tom Tykwer, I decided at once that this movie merited an addition into my collection more so because the topic of my current book was experimental sexuality given that the world was fertile enough to accept such concepts without much storm.



El Sexo De Los Ángeles begins with a man Bruno (Llorenç González) from Barcelona watching a dance performance on the street. Soon after the show somebody tries to pickpocket him. He tumbles in the hustle and injures his forehead badly. One of the dancers, Rai (Álvaro Cervantes) also a karate instructor, rescues him and helps him clean up his wound at the place he is staying. We then learn that Bruno has a photographer girlfriend Carla (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) whom he is ardently in love with and discloses as he and Rai get chatting that her folks do not think much of him and would prefer someone in the nature of an architect or the likes for their daughter.



One observes that Rai is quite smitten by Bruno. Bruno too senses a certain attraction to Rai although he rebuffs his overtures openly. From here the director Xavier Villaverde builds up the yarn to a comfortable degree where Bruno begins to internalise the conflict about why he is feeling the way he is feeling and wantonly allows Rai to kiss him after the party, and then in a natural progression submits to the direct invitation at the apartment of Carla’s colleagues when he lands up to return Rai’s tee that he had worn when they had first met.

El Sexo De Los Ángeles is based on the semiotics of the heart and mind. It is a surreal parable to the observance of modern society that does not desire to conform to any norms that have remained redundant since eons. A society that is susceptible to obey their hearts without letting any sort of encumbrance invade their senses when they know what they want out of life. In tune with that trait, I found this film to be a brilliant character study of such notions. The approach has sure been dealt with a casual lilt for a mass appeal I reckon, but it is anything but, since the director manages to induce the precise reaction of daring to live according to what the characters of Bruno, Carla and Rai deem fit regardless of the world’s judgement of it.

Rai


Rai is somewhat furtive, a bit selfishly manipulative, decidedly postmodern, rather ambiguous and free-willed to an extent that he is aware of his seductive effect on people and knows how to lure them in order to muddle with their minds. This he does purely out of innocence and not with an intention to injure. However, underneath those turbulent thoughts and wisdom, he seems to be nurturing a hurtful heart that prods him to find solace in people, dance, martial arts and a certain sense of abandonment in order to fulfil a void caused due to the trauma of his father’s early death and moving about cities with his mother that seems to have given him no sense of belonging. The vulnerable man that he is, he happens to get entangled in his own web when he realises that in order to love someone you have to think of ‘the someone’ before your own self. Experience reveals that the ones who feign control and power are the ones who most require support, and Rai certainly craves the emotional mooring of Bruno and Carla to truly discover himself and when he does, he appears so harrowed that in order to escape from his demons and avoid the dread of acknowledging such sentiments, he packs his bags and hurries away trying to dissociate from the very belief he has been in search of since a long time.

Bruno


Bruno is an affable, soft, sporty, sensitive, and somewhat emotionally restrained young man. He is the Good Samaritan who cannot hurt anybody even if meant getting hurt in the bargain. Although he is not initially inclined to experimenting with anything other than the normal, the very proximity of Rai imbalances him and being the type to explore unexplored territories, he decides to follow his impulses unrestrictedly, freely and fearlessly and embarks on an uncharted journey. Somewhere it is the predominant power of Rai and the comfort that he is trustworthy beyond doubt that induces Bruno to drop his guard claiming that sexuality has nothing to do with love and instead has everything to do with feeding the animal instinct that lies within each one of us.  

I appreciated how the director has displayed the fact that Bruno tends to think that he can have what he wants (from whomever he wants) but when he detects that his very own Carla is attracted to the unmistakable magnetism of Rai, he is suddenly struck by this uncontrollable pang of envy, jealousy and even and finds himself threatened by the very man whom he is so hopelessly beguiled with. This was a lovely onscreen representation of the banal insecurity of human nature.

It is the vulnerability in Llorenç González’s personality that lends Bruno’s character that additional pizzazz. Llorenç is smart, suave and exceptionally charming. His strength reclines in his simplicity. He reflects an alluring spirit and scores optimal in the spheres of an irresistible and winning mass appeal.

Carla



Carla is cute, impulsive and slightly anxious. She tends to get carried away in the moment and adopts this aggressive approach that could actually (in real life) ruin matters. What’s more, she has a wonderful support system in her colleagues and in some way or the other the people in her life seem to salvage her from any doom. It is nice to see how nervously and witlessly she is in love with Bruno until Rai enters her life to complicate and confuse matters making it implicitly evident that she is drawn to him like iron is to a magnet although her love for Bruno, with whom she has been in love since they were fifteen years, remains utterly intact.

The people at her office add just about the right comic quotient to the plot. The cohesion they all share despite the inquisitiveness is something that is a recent phenomenon where one notes that your colleagues become your extended family in a time where people are starving for meaningful company. Together, they go through the ups and downs as anybody would in the situation, and make sure that they watch out for one another.

Another facet of Carla’s character I liked is how she gets out of hiding, pulls back the layers, stares truth in the face and accepts her feelings with verve as she forgives, forgets and flows along with life like water that assumes the course of its current.

The film is packed with some powerful scenes and dialogues. The one in the beginning where Carla elucidates Bruno about how much she has had to put up with his jealousy over the years (even though he has never enforced his insecurities on her) was enough to deal with, than becoming aware of the fact that the man who avows his love for her had cheated on her with another man. Bruno’s natural reaction, “I didn’t plan any of this but I couldn’t help it either.” was an incredibly honest rendering of human emotion and about the fact that the human heart and mind wants so many things that defy logic and yet the prudent way would be to follow ones instinct rather than rationalising it.

Carla’s colleague suspecting Bruno’s sexuality I felt hardly holds any ground here owing to the fact that his character is merely an examination into how we are each made to confront and question our own limitations when faced with the entry of another person into that sequestered space that we do not permit anybody to colonise.

In some ways it is not easy for the mainstream to accept what is being portrayed in El Sexo De Los Ángeles: they are too calcified in their age-old beliefs to accept anything novel. Besides, the film at times is a bit too easy to be true, specifically the part where Carla and Rai get entangled, then again, one has to give the benefit of doubt since life is in the habit to hurling at us unthinkable surprises.

At the end of the day, this is a first-class film about utopia. It is fascinatingly cerebral, ferociously atrocious and incredibly sensual on a level so as to appease the youth, the segment it is intended for. It has an almost magical power, despite its density that makes certain that it keeps you spellbound by its brutal honesty. On several levels I felt it was about personal growth sans any judgement. It was an ode to the present shifting interests in people based on biological wants rather than ethical pedantry. The determinist view here about how we view gender, love and sexuality grasps you with its complexities and advocates you to let go of any such unchartered sentiments that you might find yourself enmeshed by helping you crack the cast due to the taboos laid out by the societal boundaries at large by making you love, laugh and hope with the three angels! It is not a work of genius such a Drei, but it certainly is a work of cinema that is most likely to grow in stature and cited as an example with the passage of time.

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