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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Mr. Leather *

Mr. Leather *

Director: Daniel Nolasco

Country: Brazil

In this new documentary about the second Mr. Leather competition in Brazil, we meet the contestants competing to be crowned the best Leatherman of their country, ready to compete in the international competition. It begins with an ambitiously artistic recreation of the events of the first competition, delivered in deadpan with its actors stood in expressionless freeze frames in a sequence that feels straight out of a Yorgos Lanthimos movie. But once the actual documentary footage starts, this experimental sequence is completely at odds with what follows, with its events having no bearing on what we then see, feeling like an in-joke that they’re deliberately obstructing us from understanding.

We’re then taken on a tour through the Brazilian leather scene, where we see its venues and meet its colourful characters. The contestants take us through their wardrobes – painfully slowly – and last year’s winner revels in his victory, basking in the glory with all the arrogance of an emperor surveying his newly conquered lands. It’s all laden with talk of “community” and “discrimination” as though everyone seems to have forgotten that they’re talking about a fetish instead of a protected characteristic. Everything is taken seriously, without an ounce of self-awareness, which makes for painful viewing as you quickly realise that the director holds the leathermen in as much esteem as his subjects do. This is most clear when he lets us watch a very extended uncensored sex scene in which a leatherbound dom subjugates the man dressed as a dog he has been leading around on a leash. “This is going to hurt,” he says , “A lot.”

There are comparisons aplenty to Tom Of Finland and, indeed, one of the subjects – Kake – looks and behaves like he’s stepped straight off the page to realise this idealistic figure. There’s little to these characters, however. They speak only of their love of leather and the film does nothing to delve beneath that façade. Kake loved the movies of James Dean growing up, but what did his family feel about his transformation into moustachioed muscular biker? And what does the rest of the world think of this incredibly niche – and incredibly insular – group? This is a film that will only interest the initiated but offers very little for the rest of us as we scratch our heads about these peculiarly fixated men.


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