A THOUSAND CLOUDS OF PEACE Image

At last, a film that boldly examines the entire spectrum of man-to-man love, serving everything up with style, intrigue and a simmering eroticism even as it captures our attention and strokes our imaginations from the gagging-on-cum realism of the opening blow job to the self-loving digital pump that frames this glorious Mexican production.

This is seventeen-year-old Gerardo’s story – and film. Juan Carlos Ortuño excels in the role. By film’s end there is little about him that has not been seen or imagined. His compelling face, surrounded with short-cropped hair demands our attention throughout; his proclivity for sex—a centrepoint of the story—seems genuine and heart-felt. When called upon to bare all, whether in the ecstasy of masturbation or diving into round II with Bruno (Juan Carlos Torres, convincingly enraptured/confused) in their tragically short-lived coupling, Ortuño’s candour with his body is as believable as his doomed love with the man who provides a neighbourhood designation rather than a street number as his forwarding address.

At first, the phone does ring, they meet again. But, too soon, Gerardo, having found the vinyl of the film’s theme song/title, intends to use it as the aural backdrop for their next sexual encounter, but ends up alone, disappointed, forever h***y.

Working at a male-only pool hall, he is not lacking for companionship or mail delivery. His boss Umberto (Mario Oliver) delights (and Gerardo never seems to mind) in exploring his employee’s pockets privately even as his patrons are sinking their balls in regulation.

Then, the phone goes mute and a letter is received – its contents gradually revealed, explaining that because he loves Gerardo so much, Bruno must pull back and desert him. “A fearless man swore he’d love me to death,” say the lyrics, but Bruno is not cut from that cloth.

The fiercely independent but libido-heavy hero sets out in search of his vanished lover waiting endlessly at their usual spot on the bridge then running down the railway tracks before bumping into an old friend in the graffiti-rich walls where his colleague opines “I thought loving would give me something in return,” before leading his distraught buddy into his bed for a one-night stand. Kicking him out at sunrise to avoid the scorn of his neighbours he asks (as do all men in Gerardo’s experience—most often after spurning their offer of cash for services rendered), “Will you call me?” “Sure,” comes the reply after deftly avoiding a farewell kiss.”

Venturing into Bruno’s neighbourhood, the hapless lover gets gay-bashed (entirely predictable as the music track shifted incongruously—at first—to J.S. Bach’s passion music) in an abandoned construction site. True, any violence is reprehensible, but why was Gerardo so easily tempted from the search for his life partner?

Following that humiliation Gerardo goes back home where, like his tricks, he is offered cash from his mom, but would settle for love, true love.

So it’s back to the pool hall and an obscenely quick under-the-bridge f**k, money refused that shows the depths to which Gerardo, still so young, has sunk. “Will you call me?” Hardly.

We are left with another exquisitely hot scene of self-touching even as that rekindles the memory of the vanished lover.

Director/writer Julián Hernández has fashioned together a film that will remain in memory for along time for anyone who knows the ecstasy of early love suddenly dissolved by unaccountable abandonment. But the true star of this production is Diego Arizmendi’s camera coupled with superb editing from Emiliano Arenales Osorio and Jacopo Hernández, which, in perfectly appropriate back and white, using all manner of focus, spectacular extreme close-ups, and marvellous tracking shots provide the incredibly harmonious visual reality of their far too believable film.

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