a film by Agustí Villaronga
2000 | 107 mins | Spain
›› El Mar - The Sea
a brutally dark drama on the scars of life.
El Mar by Agustí Villaronga Based on the novel by Blai Bonet and set at the time of the Spanish Civil War, this beautifully executed, albeit brutally dark drama tells the story of three childhood friends who years after a traumatic event of their youth, find themselves reunited within the walls of a sanatorium, run by the Church.

Only the bond that was then, is now of a decidedly different nature, as leader of the pack Ramallo is set to discover. Serving the criminal ways of a mafia like figure who takes more than just a casual interest in his boys, Ramallo's violent tendencies lie in stark contrast to his close friend Manuel Tur; a sensitive, if troubled young man who has taken to religion as a means to exorcise his "impure thoughts," only to be consumed by his love for Ramallo. Both men are in the care of Sister Francisca; a girl from their past who equally harbours a-liking for Ramallo, but who knows too well that the reality of tuberculosis could take the lives of those she holds dear. Or will it?

El Mar by Agustí Villaronga Opening with a pivotal flashback sequence, this intense feature is ingrained with a myriad of emotions, as feelings of betrayal set the scene for acts of bloody revenge. It is a work that is wondrously played out, in particular by Roger Casamajor, who in his film debut vividly details the complex mindset of a young man torn apart by the ravages of war. Enhanced by the striking imagery of cinematographer Jaume Peracaula and complete with the haunting score of Javier Navarrete, director and co-writer Agustí Villaronga has delivered a class production, one that walks the emotionally charged line between religion and homosexuality with alarming, think self-mutilation results. Clearly not for everyone, in particular animal lovers, even if the result bravely charts the consequences of sexual repression, the mental scars of war and a protective shield that can become a habit - literally. Gay cinema with a disturbing difference, indeed.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue 14.July.2003 / UK.
starring: Roger Casamajor / Ramallo, Bruno Bergonzini / Manuel, Antònia Torrens / Sister Francisca,
Hernán González / Galindo, Simón Andreu / Alcántara, Ángela Molina / Carmen
and Juli Mira as Don Eugeni Morell.
childhood players: Nilo Mur / young Ramallo, David Lozano / young Manuel
and Victoria Verger as young Francisca.
Copyright 2012 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #493
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