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August 29, 2014
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Tepid gay threesome bypasses reality

A scene from Rodrigo Guerrero’s debut feature film El tercero.
By Pablo Suárez
For the Herald

El tercero raises the stakes on Argentine homoeroticism on film but fails to deliver

El tercero, the debut film of Rodrigo Guerrero, tackles a topic that could have given way to a good story (perhaps even more so because it’s a first in Argentine cinema). In fact, it does well in a couple of parts, but its screenplay largely rings false and the ending is too easy to imagine.

After contacting a gay couple via web cam at a gay chat room, Fede (Emiliano Dionisi), a young man in his mid-twenties, arrives to the couple’s apartment for a threesome. Enter Hernán (Carlos Echevarría) and Franco (Nicolás Armengol), both in their mid-thirties and partners of eight years. Face to face, Fede likes them and viceversa. So it should be party time, right?

Not so fast. In El tercero, the threesome finally takes place after a ludicrously long verbal foreplay that exists only on the big screen. Of course, fiction and reality are two different things. But if a movie goes for realism, then its fiction must be built realistically. Otherwise, the singularities of the characters and situations should be noted.

Yet when a couple has a threesome with someone they’ve only met in a chat room, it’s very unlikely that they would prepare a full course dinner to break the ice. The usual scenario would run more along the lines of having something to drink, maybe playing some music, lowering the lights, and having small talk. And that would lead to the sex — the one and only reason for the gathering. And afterwards, maybe, just maybe, a more interesting conversation will arise by itself.

But in Guerrero’s film, the trio talk endlessly during their long dinner. Hernán and Franco tell Fede how they met and what they feel for each other, what they like and dislike, how they relate to each other’s families, how their families relate to them, whether they go out or stay at home, and so forth. As for Fede, he’s more of a listener, but he talks a bit about his dad and the traits he’s inherited from his parents. Also, he unexpectedly tells the couple that his mum killed herself by swallowing pills — the couple hold hands gently as to cope with the news. Not a smart, dramatic move.

Had the characters been off-beat, emotionally repressed, incomprehensible, illogical, or slightly psychotic, then they could rightfully behave in unpredictable, unusual, illogical ways. But these characters are run-off-the-mill — even uninteresting stereotypes, if you will. So why have such a contrived endless dinner sequence? Perhaps because it’s necessary to show some seduction among the characters to justify the predictable ending: the morning after, Fede feels something has changed inside of him following the encounter with the couple (or, better said, with Franco).

But not everything is a mess: the sex scenes are believable, engaging. Finally there’s some real action as the three young men kiss, caress, touch and devour one another. There’s tenderness, but also a wild, carnal side. Most important: the actors look comfortable in their roles, as they did in most of the previous scenes. At times, the viewer can really feel the heat. In comparison to the first two thirds of the movie, this tiny last third is some kind of a triumph — and the introductory chat session is true to life as well.

Limited release: Gaumont (Rivadavia 1635) / BAMA Cine Arte

Production notes

El tercero (Argentina, 2014). Written and directed by: Rodrigo Guerrero. With: Emiliano Dionisi, Carlos Echevarría, Nicolás Armengol. Cinematography by Gustavo Tejeda. Editing by Rodrigo Guerrero, Lorena Moriconi. Produced by Lorena Quevedo, Rodrigo Guerrero. Running time: 70 minutes.

@PablSuarez

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