Esteros (2016) – Film Review
Director: Papu Curotto
Cast: Ignacio Rogers, Esteban Masturini
by Gregory Fishwick
Matias and Jeronimo are boyhood friends who spend their days frolicking in the Argentinian countryside. As their mutual sexual awakening approaches, it is clear their feelings for each-other extend beyond mere friendship. Flash forward ten years or so, Matias returns to his home town, having re-located to Brazil, entered the work place (one gets the impression in the corporate sense) and picked up a girlfriend along the way. He conveniently bumps into his now openly gay boyhood pal and once-dormant feelings are now stirred in both of them.
Nothing new here; the list of films that it bears resemblances to would be nearly neverending, though the work of Andre Techine, particularly the likes of Les Roseaux Sauvages (1994), immediately springs to mind. Like that film, much emphasis is put on the place of nature in the character’s lives, hence the title. The boys were at their happiest when playing in the lakes and countryside; it is there that they can be free and be themselves whereas the city represents the stifling need to conform, not only in the case of of Matias whose entire life seems to be a façade but for Jeronimo too, who, despite accepting his sexuality, seems aimless, unable to commit to anything in his life.
“A very personal story”
When the two of them return to the marshes of the title, Jeronimo confesses that it is his favourite spot on earth and he has been unable to share it with anyone else and it is here that their love for each-other manifests itself. Nowhere near as symbolic as it may sound, the “earth children” motif is contrived and the constant spectacle of the boys, in both time frames, larking around in various forms of messy dishevelment is not only forced and silly but looks utterly awkward. What certainly doesn’t help is the uninspiring performances of the leads; one simply bland, the other resembling Peter Boyle from Young Frankenstein – though unaware he’s doing it.
Certain socio-political concerns are woven into the mix; Matias and his parents moved to Brazil so his father could pursue the big bucks whilst Jeronimo’s parents stayed to attempt to make their old-style farm work; something which is clearly becoming more and more difficult in the modern world.
One certainly gets the sense that director Papu Curotto has something to say and that it is a very personal story to him – no doubt to others as well. If you’re one of them and you like the sound of what you hear and fancy some fairly pretty photography then check it out. But ultimately, I’d recommend you speculate your 12 quid on a Techine film.
‘Esteros’ is out now on DVD, £14.99 from Matchbox Films