A guest’s seductive behavior destabilizes the already rocky marriage of his hosts and connects them inappropriately with their repressed desires in the unpleasant, heavy-handed chamber drama “Belated.” The feature debut of Argentine helmer Barbara Sarasola-Day, this literally dark, belabored execution of an overly familiar theme unfolds on a tobacco plantation in the conservative countryside of northwest Argentina, where men are men; women are mothers, whores or maidservants; and homosexual desire is present but taboo. Fest play offers the film’s best chance of export.Coming from a tradition of noblesse oblige, burly, macho Ernesto (Luis Ziembrowski) gladhands his peasant employees and participates in landed-gentry traditions like hunting, cockfighting and visiting the bordello. He’s not particularly interested in bedding horsey wife Helena (Maria Ucedo), who is desperate for a child. But the presence of Helena’s cousin Joaquin (Alejandro Buitrago, an uncharismatic cipher), who arrives for an extended stay after a stint in rehab, spices up their sex life, particularly if they can see him watching. Thesps fail to bring any erotic spark to the tale; murky, wobbly lensing by Lucio Bonelli approximates the green-gray-yellow color of a bruise.
A Pucara Cine, Antorcha Films, Faction Film production, in association with Atopic, with the support of Incaa, Proimagenes Colombia, FDC. Sorfond Norwegian South Film Fund, Fundacion Carolina Casa America, IFP. Produced by Federico Eibuszyc, Jhonny Hendrix, Barbara Sarasola-Day, Dag Hoel, Daniel A. Werner. Directed, written by Barbara Sarasola-Day.
Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Lucio Bonelli; editor, Catalina Rincon; music, Alvaro Morales; art director, Marcela Gomez Montoya; sound (Dolby Digital 5.1), Jessica Suarez. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 9, 2013. Running time: 102 MIN.
Luis Ziembrowski, Maria Ucedo, Alejandro Buitrago. (Spanish dialogue)