My Best Friend ****
Starring: Angelo Mutti Spinelli, Lautaro Rodriguez, Guillermo Pfening, Mariana Anghileri
Director: Martin Dues Country: Argentina At first glance, this story of friendship between two teenage boys seems to be yet another gay coming-of-age drama, this time set in the wilds of Patagonia. You can almost plot it: boy meets boy, a deep and meaningful friendship forms, they realise it’s more than friendship and they spend the rest of the movie cavorting about hand in hand together. Except, this is not that movie. Boy does indeed meet boy and they form a deep and meaningful friendship, but that’s all this is. The title is a bit of a give away really... Lorenzo (Spinelli) is a teenager at school in Patagonia. He knows that he doesn’t fit in, but doesn’t really understand why. His parents moved to the wilderness to escape the world of gangs in the big city, where his dad (Pfening) was friends with some unsavoury characters. When they hear that one of his old friends has gone into prison, he and his wife agree to take in his son Caíto (Rodriguez). Tattooed, lazy, rebellious and independent, he couldn’t be more different from Lorenzo. But as his free-spirited ways begin to grate on his family, Lorenzo decides to do everything he can to turn his new friend’s life around, while discovering plenty about himself along the way too. Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Yes, this is a gay movie, but not in the way you might expect. Lorenzo is implicitly gay, but in the one moment when this is addressed head on, he side-steps by saying that he’s “not ready” to talk about his sexuality. And while it’s quite obvious that he has fallen for Caíto, their relationship is entirely innocent and based on their care for each other as friends. If you’re expecting to see Lorenzo and Caíto exploring together sexually, then alas you’re going to be disappointed. But while the hunky Lautaro Rodriguez will definitely be the reason many will watch this film, part of the point of the film is that while he has reached physical maturity, he certainly hasn’t reached it emotionally. He may have been hardened by his years on the streets, but they have also left him vulnerable. Lorenzo is only a year younger than Caíto, but they look many years apart. While it’s very clear that Lorenzo is a child still at school, Caíto’s exterior makes it very easy to forget his age. And in fact, it’s Lorenzo who is far more mature. He takes on the role of parent; encouraging, coaching and helping him with becoming a more respectable member of society. This is a story of culture clash and transformation, without belittling either of the world’s from which they come. This is a tender buddy-movie that doesn’t let the distraction of sexuality get in the way. It’s above that, in fact, because when Lorenzo’s mother tries to explain their connection away as sexual attraction, it is far too simple an explanation to put on something so complex. Well-paced and concise, we get just the right dose of idiosyncrasy to enjoy the polarisation of these characters without this becoming irritating, while the whole film feels profoundly adult in its refusal to put labels on anything. Sweet over sexy and measured over energetic, this is a staid but optimistic film that will have you yearning to be young and carefree once again. MY BEST FRIEND IS RELEASED BY MATCHBOX PICTURES AND IS OUT ON 7TH JANUARY 2019 ON DVD. Click here to buy and for more info.