Breaking Glass // 2008 // 105 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // November 21st, 2012
I haven't seen enough queer cinema to pretend to generalize it, but a lot of what I have seen involves a very simple idea of a character struggling with his or her sexuality and, potentially, forcing their family to come to terms with that, as well. It isn't an unworthy story to tell, really, but it severely limits the kind of stories that can be told under those constraints. Twisted Romance is different, though. This Argentinian drama accepts the characters outright, allowing to tell a much rougher tale of bad love and bad people, though the film is far from a complete success.
Raúl (Oscar Génova) is a young Argentine living on the fringes of society with his mother and sister, who are part time tarot readers and part time prostitutes. One day, he meets Roberto (Nehuén Zapata), a scraggly older man who hangs out on the street. He takes Raúl home with him and forces himself on the boy, but instead of revulsion, Rauúl feels a connection with Roberto that he can't shake. Raúl believes that, if only he waits and tries, he can change Roberto and allow him to reciprocate the love he feels, but Roberto keeps him at arm's length until Raú can no longer take it, leading to an explosion neither will soon forget.
Director José Campusano (Vikingo) does some interesting things with Twisted Romance, though it's not a completely successful film. It's a very low budget film and Campusano uses that to good effect, giving an immediacy to the story that I didn't expect. No character is particularly likable, though a few of them seem to try at times. Raúl is a strong lead, wanting intimacy and not finding it in Roberto, so finds it in an online connection, which becomes a the relationship that sets the final events into motion. It's not the most subtle film in the world, but it's straightforward and gets right to business, with both the turgid emotions and the sexuality.
It's the sex that's the strangest thing about Twisted Romance. There aren't a lot of erotic scenes, but what's there is graphic and often violent. Moreover, because the whole film is so cheap, these scenes take on a certain porn quality that makes the whole thing seem really dirty and exploitative. It's just artfully done enough, though, to make me remember why I always watched Zalman King's films. That's not necessarily a ringing endorsement, but it's something.
The performances, though, are the true asset to the film. Few actors here have done much outside of this, but they are believable across the board, especially from the two leads. They dominate the running time with a strange chemistry. The relationship is written fairly well and the actors play it up realistically. The overall story doesn't have very much going on outside of this relationship, though there are plenty of extraneous scenes, but it doesn't take all that much away from Génova and Zapata, who are very good.
Breaking Glass presents an inferior DVD to represent Twisted Romance. I haven't seen a lot of their product, so I don't know if this is typical, but the 1.78:1 standard definition transfer isn't even anamorphic, which is inexcusable today. Otherwise, it has the flat look of videotape and flesh tones that are too heavily contrasted and bright. The sound is average, better than the image, but not by a lot. For extras, there are a couple of minutes of deleted footage, but that's it.
Twisted Romance is a tough egg to crack. It doesn't really fit in with the usual narrative of LGBT cinema where the characters try to come to terms with their sexuality, and that's a good thing. The trouble is that it's often so poorly filmed that it undermines a lot of good that exists in the story. Overall, I like it well enough to give a reserved recommendation.
Too tough to call, so I must dismiss the case.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Breaking Glass
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes