These Peculiar Days ***
Starring: Gerardo Del Razo, Sofia Sylwin, Carlos Hendrick Huber, Axel Arenas
Director: Chucho E. Quintero
Oh to be eighteen again. Although I’m fairly sure when my friends and I had weekends away together, we didn’t all end up having sex with each other, regardless of gender. That’s what this group of eight friends do in These Peculiar Days. Maybe I should have grown up in Mexico too!
With their phones all locked away for four days, eight friends stay in a house in the woods together. Of course, before they arrive there’s already plenty of tension between them, especially because Roman (Del Razo) has recently split with his girlfriend Isabel (Sylwin) because she caught him having sex with Oscar (Huber). Initially the couple try to work out their differences, but as the weekend goes on it becomes clear that while they love each other, they want to experiment too, with Roman and Oscar rekindling their affair and Isabel exploring with a girlfriend too. Elsewhere, the others go from walking on eggshells with their bickering friends to writhing around naked in a drug-fuelled haze. These teenagers are having far more fun than I did, that’s for sure!
On the whole, this is a fun ensemble film with enough tension between them to make their weekend together entertaining viewing. It’s sexy, fun and a refreshing depiction of sexual fluidity, but yet it has a lazy middle act in which they drop a bombshell from outside the house that alights a flurry of anguish only for them to forget about it fifteen minutes later. It’s almost as though the writer thought their relationships weren’t enough to keep the plot going. Also, the reliance on grainy flashbacks to somehow illustrate their individual stories does the film a disservice, serving only to distract from the pressure bubbling inside the house.
Anyone who’s been on large group holidays knows that they are a pressure cooker, bringing any residual issues to the surface, often explosively. Filmmakers keep returning to this idea because it is so rich for dramatic potential and while These Peculiar Days is by no means the strongest I’ve seen – or even the strongest LGBT one I’ve seen (that title goes to Taekwondo) – this tried and tested format never gets old and it does exactly what it says on the tin here.