Bittersweet Waters **
Starring: Jésus Canchola Sánchez, Ramón Varela, Denis Montes, Neyla Jaen
Director: Jésus Canchola Sánchez
In a village in rural Mexico, Atl (Sánchez) is forced to hide his sexuality from everyone around him. He is in love with Diego (Varela), but they keep their relationship a well-guarded secret, for fear of their community’s reaction. His mother (Jaen) censures him for what she sees as his failings – not marrying or giving her children – while Diego’s fiancée (Montes) cannot reveal her suspicions about her husband-to-be for fear of the consequences for her too.
On the one hand, this is a sweet story of forbidden love that features some genuine tenderness between two men unable to be together. On the other hand, Diego is nasty to both Atl and his fiancée, leaving both unhappy because of his indecisiveness. Of course this is a film that examines the societal pressures of keeping your true self hidden, but where Atl is pleasant and affable, Diego is abrupt and cruel. And it’s hard to root for a couple that you don’t like.
The first half of the movie suffers from Inactivity Syndrome as the characters browbeat for far too long about their situation, but then the final act kicks into fifth gear like a melodramatic telenovela with guns, hysterics and betrayals. It feels like it’s trying to make up for starting so slowly, but over-compensating so much that you’re watching an entirely different movie. There are some nice scenes between Atl and Diego, but when you see them away from each other you realise that they’re about as similar as the Queen Mother and Josef Stalin and their romance would ultimately be as successful as Britney and Justin’s.
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