Boy Undone *
Starring: Paul Act, Eduardo Longoria, Rodrigo Lopezcarranza, Xavier Loyá
Director: Leopoldo Laborde
“Guerilla filmmaking” is the term used nowadays to describe a film shot on a minimal budget, usually on rudimentary equipment. As a guerilla filmmaker myself, I understand the frustration of when a film’s biggest criticism is the quality of its film stock, but if its content isn’t up to standard, then trying to excuse it on these grounds simply isn’t good enough. Especially if the material is so X-rated they would look more at home on X Tube.
Boy Undone is a Mexican film shot on camcorders with amateur actors. Fernando (Act) and Miguel (Longoria) meet on a night out in a gay club. They go home together, but the next morning Fernando wakes up with no memory of the night before. In fact, he has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Miguel promises to help him find out who he is, but the pair start to struggle with what is essentially a relationship, which has been thrust upon them because of Fernando’s amnesia.
What is most striking from the outset is the film’s sexually explicit content. The actors engage in real sex, with the camera unflinching, almost showing off the performers in a pornographic way. In fact, the angles and long-lingering shots resemble pornography much more than any artistic depiction of real sex on screen. Sex makes up a very large portion of this film. It shows it, then re-shows it, returning in flashback and then flashing back to the flashback. The director seems so obsessed with the porn he’s shot that the plot seems almost irrelevant alongside it.Additionally, the grainy and badly lit nature of the material just makes you feel like you’re watching a well-produced webcam show on Cam4.
The first hour of the film (which is overlong by a good thirty minutes) is essentially a two-hander. They ruminate on Fernando’s situation with lots of long looks into the middle distance and shots of at least one of them crying while having sex. Clearly the director is trying to depict Fernando’s bewilderment, but by underlining it so severely over and over again, it feels like someone is shouting directly into the lens “LOOK HOW CONFUSED HE IS!” But through all his snivelling, we see barely a glimmer of characterisation beyond the squeals the actor makes while being penetrated on screen.
When additional characters are finally introduced - when the director decides that it is finally time to do something with the plot other than just brow-beat on an endless loop - they are introduced naked. Having sex. At the same time as the other characters. Who are also having sex. And suddenly it’s like a Blake Mason version of Where’s Wally, trying to work out which character is which based on pube-colour and ass-shape. Suddenly a ludicrous thriller begins, with our over-emotive duo suddenly pulling out steak knives to mutilate those responsible for Fernando’s amnesia. Which is obviously a proportionate response.
The story takes ludicrous narrative turns that jar tremendously with the entirety of the first half of the film. The first hour feels like it is aiming toward tenderness, while the second like it is aiming for shock, shock, shock. It feels like a young filmmaker has watched a lot of porn, ultra-violence and Gus Van Sant and tried to combine them in one movie. And it just doesn’t work. At all.