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.