SLAMDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho, the man behind last year’s critically acclaimed Parasite, really nailed it with his Golden Globe acceptance speech. “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles,” he said, “you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Americans in particular seem to struggle when it comes to reading while watching. Hopefully, this doesn’t prevent Andres Clariond’s terrific drama Close Quarters, originally titled Territorio in its native Mexico, from reaching a wide audience in the States. An intense and visceral slow-burn, Clariond’s feature is a deconstruction of male toxicity, a fervently erotic thriller, and an indictment of a regime that forces people into quite literally incarcerating themselves. And it is all bottled into a compact 90 minutes.
Manuel (Jose Pescina) and Lupe (Paulina Gaitan) are a couple struggling to conceive. “Don’t be discouraged,” he tells her after she gets her period. “You’ll have my Manuelito inside you in no time.” They live in a tiny but neat apartment that Manuel could afford by busting a*s as a manager at the local furniture factory. When Ruben (Jorge A. Jimenez), a hunk with his sights set on the border, is hired, an instant friendship is struck between him and Manuel. Before you know it, Manuel suggests Ruben as a potential sperm donor.
“Before you know it, Manuel suggests Ruben as a potential sperm donor.”
At first, Lupe is opposed to the notion. Ruben is far from the ideal donor in her eyes. He dropped out of middle school because he “had to start working.” “He looks like a redneck,” she comments, eyeing the man judgmentally. Yet slowly, Ruben’s charisma starts to win her over. Oblivious, Manuel invites his new friend to move in with them. From there, let’s just say, Manuel creates a proverbial monster, setting in motion a power play that instantly establishes Ruben’s dominance.
"…a deconstruction of male toxicity, a fervently erotic thriller and an indictment of a regime..."