A case of mistaken identity leads to homoerotic connection between two soccer players in Marco Berger’s “El Reloj.” While waiting for a bus, late at night, our protagonist is approached by a boy his age. “Aren’t you so-and-so…” “No, that’s not me.” And so on. From that moment on, the two boys’ relationship quickly progresses. They hail a cab decide to hang out at the second boy’s house with his bikini brief-clad brother and watch television. Boredom sets in so the two move to the bedroom, disrobe, and lie in bed together. Then they…wait for it…talk about childhood toys for a moment and get redressed when they find out that mom’s home. A quick goodbye sends the first boy walking home into the darkness. In no rush to define their relationship, the two boys just part ways into the night.
Berger’s story-telling style keeps the viewer wanting more. Just to have one of the characters briefly explain what’s going on would put many of us at ease. The fact that this explanation never comes is “El Reloj’s” greatest strength. The performances are so subtle and yet precise that it’s clear the characters know what’s going on but the fact that they know and we don’t is enough to keep us begging for more. Coming in at fifteen minutes, Berger’s film keeps the audience captivated until the very last second. The only scene that hurts the film is a flashback of Boy One recognizing Boy Two as a friend of a friend. Taking the story out of the present was unneeded and ineffective. What’s great about “El Reloj “ is the structuring of the boys’ relationship which starts happening the moment they meet at the bus stop. From there, all bets are off.