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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Cola De Mono **

Starring: Santiago Rodríguez-Costabal, Cristobál Rodríguez-Costabal, Carmina Riego, Diego Nawrath

Director: Alberto Fuguet

Country: Chile

South America has produced many strong LGBT films over the last few years. At the Oscars, Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman went home with the Best Foreign Language Film prize, becoming the second LGBT movie to win big at the world’s biggest film awards in the space of just two years, Cola De Mono is the first Chilean LGBT movie to be released in the UK since and where it should have been able to bask in the wake of its predecessor, instead it founders in its ripples, before we can even get our feet wet.

Borja (Cristobál Rodríguez-Costabal) and Vicente (Santiago Rodríguez-Costabal) are brothers. Both are gay and hiding it from their overbearing mother (Riego). It is Christmas Eve 1986 and as the family bask in the lethargic heat, tensions begin to rise as old scars are brought back to the surface. Borja is an outspoken and volatile creative, while Vicente is a withdrawn introvert, but with both hiding the same secret, their different personalities manifest it in entirely different ways in this slow-burning erotic thriller.

“Erotic thriller” though this may be, there is a lot more emphasis on the “erotic” over the “thriller”. Both boys engage in prolonged sequences of sexual activity, while the camera drinks in their youthful flesh, lingering for long periods on crotches and even, now on then, on an absurdly flaccid penis. Cruising in the park leads one to have multiple sexual encounters, while the younger brother spends his time furiously masturbating at home, but seemingly having some cerebral connection with his sibling, feeling the sexual contact he is experiencing first hand.

This is a film that loiters around its characters. It dawdles around imagery that is decidedly sexual, especially on the younger brother, but also going to great lengths to portray him as quite the obnoxious character, making it actually quite hard to find the will to sit through the lengthy objectification sequences when he’s so unbearable when he speaks. And while the camera is trying desperately to excite the viewer, sexual abuse and a distinct undertone of incest are thrown into the mix too, which do much to distract if you’re watching it for its sexual content. But despite featuring these seemingly big plot points, the film suffers severely from inactivity syndrome, taking its time finding a plot so much that you feel like you’re waiting for either paint to dry or the end of days, whichever comes first. Oh and the "Cola De Mono" of the title refers to a traditional Christmas cocktail, the recipe for which is conveniently displayed on screen, followed by definitions of words like "cruising" that are obviously intended to make the film quirky, but instead feel like a last-ditch attempt to make the film entertaining in post-production.

Eventually – and I mean eventually – the film does find its feet in its final act, skipping many years into the future. Suddenly the older actor brother (as the actors here are also brothers in real life) is playing the older version of the younger brother – read it again, it does make sense – and we’re in a Cruising-esque cat and mouse in a gay sauna. It makes for an entertaining epilogue to the story, but after sitting through 80 minutes of boring dialogue and unsexy self-gratification, it’s far too little far too late.


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