German multihyphenate Jurgen Bruning, who produced several Bruce LaBruce features as well as documentaries, experimental work and gay porn, attempts a more conventional narrative with “Saudade: Longing.” Centering on three German school buddies all yearning for something seemingly unattainable during a lazy summer in Brazil, the digital feature is absorbing in a low-key way, but never develops much dramatic edge or the sensuality its title suggests. Attractive cast and locations could deliver a modest commercial yield in the gay home entertainment niche.
The trio consist of restless rich boy Cyrus (Tarik Qazi), wannabe musician Tim (Daniel Batscher) and lovelorn dreamer Erik (Hendrik Scheider). Cyrus tries to trace the Brazilian mother he never knew, while Tim looks to tap into the local music scene. But their stories feel like padding to the principal thread concerning Erik. He inadvertently kills a sexual partner during an aggressive encounter on the beach, then becomes romantically involved with a black soap star (Aldri D’Anunciacao) unaware of his connection to the dead man. Billed as “a real telenovela,” the drama is too often undercharged and inert, and the stiffly uncomfortable actors fail to provide much heat.