Review: ‘Broken Sky’

Though the bold treatment of homoerotic love in Mexican helmer Julian Hernandez's feature bow "Broken Sky" is sure to grab attention, it doesn't take long before the pic's torturously slow pace turns an earnest effort into a tedious aesthetic exercise.

Though the bold treatment of homoerotic love in Mexican helmer Julian Hernandez’s feature bow “Broken Sky” is sure to grab attention, it doesn’t take long before the pic’s torturously slow pace turns an earnest effort into a tedious aesthetic exercise. A love triangle is played out in near-wordless pantomime among three attractive young thesps, frequently photographed in the buff. But yearning looks followed by foreplay and tumbling do not a 2½–hour feature film make. Word of mouth will soon kill the film’s prospects as a gay date-movie at arthouse venues. Its Berlin fest bow elicited massive walkouts.

Sensitive Gerardo (Miguel Angel Hoppe) loves Jonas (Fernando Arroyo), and for a while they’re happy together. Then Jonas is dazzled by a fleeting encounter with a stranger in a disco. Broken-hearted, Gerardo finds consolation in the arms of Sergio (Alejandro Rojo), another sensitive soul, yet he and Jonas are too much in love to break off completely.

There is little that feels real in this choreographed dance of love, rejection, pain, new love, guilt, return to old love. With an extensive background in shorts, writer-director Hernandez seems unable to rise to the challenge of narrative, preferring to explore simple moods at narcissistic length. Deprived of dialogue, Hoppe, Rojo and Arroyo have no way to build their characters, and communicate little more than self-absorption.

The action takes place in the wide-open spaces of a city college campus, or the closed universe of bedrooms, bathrooms, an airless club. Film’s elegant cinematography is a pleasure to watch. Alejandro Cantu alternates horizontal pans and fixed camera to sensually caress the protags’ sculpted young bodies, while locking them into painterly poses that tend to drain away a lot of the eroticism; there’s nothing down and dirty about this film. Rhythm is infinitely slow as scenes circle around to repeat themselves again and again and again.

Broken Sky

Mexico

Production

A Mil Nubes Cine production in association with Imcine/CUEC-UNAM/Fonca. Produced by Roberto Fiesco Trejo. Directed, written by Julian Hernandez.

Crew

Camera (color), Alejandro Cantu; editor, Emiliano Arenales Osorio; music, Arturo Villela Vega; production designer, Jesus Torres Torres; costume designer, Laura Garcia de la Mora; sound (Dolby digital), Armando Narvaez del Valle. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 14, 2006. Running time: 140 MIN.

With

Miguel Angel Hoppe, Fernando Arroyo, Alejandro Rojo, Ignacio Pereda, Klaudia Aragon, Clarisa Rendon, Pilar Ruiz, Ortos Soyus.
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