I can recognize as readily as the next person the need for all subsets of society to have the proper representation in cinema. I also fear that representation itself is being used as a crutch for many filmmakers in an attempt to bolster otherwise vanilla flicks. It’s difficult to watch writer-director Mariano Biasin’s LGBTQ+ coming-of-age romance Sublime and not worry if that’s the case. The discovery and negotiation of our sexual identity during adolescence (or later) is seemingly an endless well of inspiration for countless authors and filmmakers. That in itself simply isn’t enough in to separate any movie from the pack, though. One only needs to peruse any streaming service (especially in the month of June) to find numerous titles from around the world that share the same sensibilities as this.
Biasin’s film is centered on two aspiring musicians in an admittedly dreadful garage band in Buenos Aires. 16-year-old Manu (Martín Miller) is a gawky bass player with braces. Felipe (Teo Inama Chiabrando) is the aloof lead guitar player. Manu, whose full name is Manuel, develops feelings for the guitarist. The friends, maybe more, are fun to see on screen together. Their best moments involve a game of Either/Or in which they discuss various torture methods and which they would prefer, given a choice.
“…realize that they don’t like their girlfriends as much as they think they should.”
Their band prepares for a local concert by practicing a thorough setlist, with Manu and Felipe bonding during rehearsals. Their connection doesn’t happen at the outset as both have girlfriends, though the boys treat them as little more than accessories. As in various other movies in the same vein, the leads realize that they don’t like their girlfriends as much as they think they should. Manu is the first to confront his newfound feelings for Felipe, but will his admission cause the band’s break up?
The setup of Sublime is a fairly basic affair. Biasin takes too long to get moving with the plot machinations. We know what’s ultimately going to happen, so it’s prudent to get to the point more rapidly. The frequent glimpses of the band playing their songs are also tiresome. Anyone who has spent any period of time listening to high school garage bands will have an idea of the pain they may be in. The camera glides around the band playing their angst-ridden songs, making viewers aware of Biasin’s skill at photographing musicians. If only the level of music matched the quality of the filmmaking.
Just because I wasn’t vibing with much of Sublime (as kids of Manu and Felipe’s age would say) doesn’t mean I can’t admire it as a picture with a boundless heart. Miller and Chiabrando work well with what they’re given, and this story is bound to be relatable to plenty of adolescents navigating their sexuality in a world that may not be ready to embrace their identities. And just because it’s a story like many others we’ve seen before doesn’t suggest it can’t mean a lot to anyone struggling in a world still hostile to their way of life.
"…a picture with a boundless heart."