In a sign of their respect for our intelligence, moreover, Re and Barón also resist the temptation to emote. To illustrate their characters’ emotional repression, the two actors instead force us to glean Gabriel and Juan’s emotions from gestures, expressions, and small talk alone. At one point, for instance, we get that Gabriel is agitated by how his eyes dart around while his daughter talks about school. And in another scene, we realize that he’s angry when he simply says he’s “too tired” to stay up and watch some TV with Juan.
“In a sign of their respect for our intelligence, moreover, Re and Barón also resist the temptation to emote.”
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about The Blonde One is its unabashed physicality. Whereas supposedly “revolutionary” films like Brokeback Mountain shied from depicting gay sex – as though they found such intercourse disgusting – Berger wants us to recognize the role that sexual desire plays in LGBTQ+ relationships. Prominently featuring nudity and Berger’s trademark shots of crotches, the film manages to make gay sex seem like something that’s both tantalizingly illicit and refreshingly ordinary.
The Blonde One isn’t necessarily an easy watch. Thanks to its restrained acting and direction, nothing in the film is particularly eye-catching. If you’re not prepared, you might find the whole thing a bit too long for comfort. Yet a shorter and more dramatic film wouldn’t have accomplished Berger’s main objective, which is to portray how two men haltingly and at times vainly, try to overcome their emotional and sexual repression. This may not be a film that advertises itself as important, in short, but its sensitivity and perceptiveness will leave a lasting impression.