a film by Julián Hernández
2006 | 140 mins | Mexico
›› Broken Sky - El Cielo Dividido
a beautiful, if overlong study of gay first love
Broken Sky by Julián Hernández Fans of the work of writer and director Julián Hernández will no doubt delight in this sensuous study of gay first love. Those however unaccustomed to his directorial style may well be in for a surprise, given Hernández once again takes us back to the days of the silent cinema, only to punctuate his near-wordless love story with the odd sentence or two, so as to emphasise key elements of the storyline.

For when Gerardo met Jonás it was love at first sight, one so intense that they are more than happy to show the world their deep affection; whether that be in the middle of the University halls or out in the open. Only a brief nightclub encounter is set to change all that, as Jonás finds himself fixated with a guy on the dance floor, lusting after 'the one' to the detriment of his relationship with Gerardo, at a time when a certain Sérgio is waiting in the wings. It is a situation in which the only certainty is that things will never be the same again.

In many ways I'm reminded here of the Jules Nurrish short No Ordinary Joe and the Joe Orton inspired line 'you know it all ends in disappointment, but there is beauty along the way.' For those words aptly describe this feature, as Hernández gleefully laces his ode to first love with a multitude of tender and quite touching moments. Yet whilst scenes of the pair of star-crossed lovers playing 'hide and kiss' games in the library, mix effortlessly with a set of sweet and often erotic moments together, you just know that such romantic bliss cannot last forever. Suffice to say facial expressions, rather than words are eventually to be found accompanying scenes of despair and angst. For whilst Hernández does provide periodic voiceovers, in the main when you expect mouths to open, you are greeted instead with longing glances. To their credit, the principal cast do a fine job expressing their inner most thoughts, let alone rampant sexual desire. For this is an extremely physical piece, filled as it is with scenes of love making and male nudity of the kind that Derek Jarman would rejoice in, namely gay cinema of the out and proud variety.

Broken Sky by Julián Hernández Yet what is equally on display is the love Hernández has for the celluloid medium. For this work is drenched in compositional colour, creative cinematography and directorial attention to detail, that together with a host of sweeping camera shots showcase an idyllic world in which no-one blinks an eye at the sight of overt homosexual affection. Then again, this is in essence a three man play, or rather affair, given the introduction of two female characters is all but a token gesture in a work that is dominated by the central love triangle. And yet inspite of all the positives and of those there are many, this is a feature that should have been somewhat edited, having long overstayed its cinematic welcome and in the process sacrificed its power at the altar of visual indulgence.

That said and like his earlier work A Thousand Clouds of Peace, what we have here is akin to a poetic meditation on love, filled as it is with emotions that range from lust and desire through to rejection, jealousy and the bitter pain of loneliness. That the closing credits artistically use photographic stills taken during the filming, more than reflects the nature of the feature itself, given this is not so much a film, but more a beautiful, if overlong study of gay first love. Whether it is to your liking however, largely depends on what degree you like laconic storytelling.
screened as part of the 21st London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2007
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue
starring: Miguel Ángel Hoppe, Fernando Arroyo, Alejandro Rojo, Ignacio Pereda,
Klaudia Aragón, Clarisa Rendón, Pilar Ruiz, Ortos Soyuz
Copyright 2008 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #157
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