Far more convinced of its own psychological intrigue than audiences will be.

Announcing its suspense-ratcheting intentions with a score that makes Bernard Herrmann sound downright dainty by comparison, Argentine thriller “Absent” is far more convinced of its own psychological intrigue than audiences will be. Writer-director Marco Berger has almost nowhere to go with the story of a homoerotically inclined teenager who tries to ensnare his presumably straight swimming coach into an illicit liaison. Though gay auds eager for some underage Latin action should fill seats at queer fest engagements, nothing much happens to justify their interest.

“Absent” plays on a familiar male fantasy: What if the off-limits object of desire were the one to initiate? The film opens with a rather indecent dissection of 16-year-old Martin (Javier De Pietro), a bullish lad with big cow eyes and a vaguely mischievous look about him. Sensing weakness in his coach (Carlos Echevarria), Martin makes up an elaborate story that leads to a sleepover at the older man’s condo. The tension that ensues has less to do with pent-up sexual energy than the wait for something to happen, as the hormonally charged first half-hour devolves into guessing games about what’s going through inexpressive Echevarria’s head.

Absent

Argentina

Production

A Rendez-vous Pictures presentation of an Oh My Gomez! Films production with the support of Universidad del Cine. (International sales: Rendez-vous Pictures, Paris.) Executive producer, Mariana Contreras. Directed, written, edited by Marco Berger.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Tomas Perez Silva; music, Pedro Irusta; production designer, Silva; art director, Paula Lombardi. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 11, 2011. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Carlos Echevarria, Javier De Pietro, Alejandro Barbero, Antonella Costa, Rocio Pavon.

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