The Australian actor, who made a huge impression leading the #MeToo protests while acting as President of the Cannes jury in 2018, has now been appointed the same job in Venice, presiding over a 2020 competition that is set to include major Oscar contenders.
A 40-something Argentine man meanders around a coastal town, exploring the sights of Barcelona. While the cinematography (by Bernat Mestres) is sparkling and gorgeous, what it’s capturing – solo tourism – is fairly mundane viewing for the first fifteen or so minutes of this meditative film.
He notices another man on the beach, but fails to make contact until he spots him on the street below his rented apartment and asks him up for a drink. They acknowledge that they saw each other on the beach earlier. “It’s like a chess game, right?” opines bearded Ocho (Juan Barberini), adding, “I looked for you on Grindr.” Javi (Ramon Pujol) is not on Grindr… Turns out he lives in Berlin and is in town for work while Ocho lives in New York. A holiday romance starts to blossom fairly rapidly; these guys are not shy about acknowledging and acting on their mutual attraction.
The two men are slim and attractive, so there’s plenty of eye candy and casual sex. We learn that Ocho has very recently broken up with his long-term (20-year) boyfriend in order to explore the pure freedom of singleton status while Javi is recently married and a parent. They compare notes on the pros and cons of relationships. Their mildly philosophical discussions about life and maturing are pleasant. Abruptly, we flash back twenty years as it’s revealed that they have met in this city before…
The film’s title refers to their past encounter, at the turn of the century, and the flashback sequence illustrates two men who were in very different places in their lives.
There’s a pleasing aspect to a conversation that offers the perspective of nostalgia, as they recall what they learned about each other all those years ago. Writer/director Lucio Castro even indulges in a flight of fancy, imagining a different and rosier future for the pair.
End of the Century aims to be a meditation on life and aging, on the hopes and dreams of youth and the lonely reality of twenty years down the track. An “impression of (one’s) experience,” as one character muses. That’s about the sum of it. Fin de siglo is the film’s original title.
Co-Directors Michael Leonard and Jamie Helmer of Golden Moss Films discuss their latest short film, the highly anticipated The Diver, which after playing at Venice, will have its Australian premiere at Flickerfest.