Festival Review: From Afar (2015)

Desde Allá

With a fantastic performance from Alfredo Castro, Lorenzo Vigas’ From Afar is a delicate but passionless tale of a love that dare not speak its name.

Fatal Attraction

by Mark Wilshin

From Afar

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Winner of the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival and a late addition to the London Film Festival programme, Lorenzo Vigas’ From Afar is not only Venezuelan, it’s also a Venezuelan gay love story. Set in Caracas, it’s the story of troubled Armando (Alfredo Castro) who picks up tricks on the street for a bit of cash, and Elder (Luis Silva), a street punk and mechanic who discovers his gravy train has just rolled in. It’s a slow burner, as Armando puts up with robbings and beatings until finally, after being beaten up by his girlfriend’s brother, Elder develops an affection for his new buddy. With a muted colour palette, we see the world largely through Armando’s eyes, and lingering on extended moments of Armando observing Elder or caught awkwardly alone at a birthday bash, it’s a painful trial of unrequited love. And with Armando’s prediliction for viewing from afar without touching, it’s an unattainable love that skirts somewhere between reality and fantasy. It’s in the final reel however that Desde Alla starts to unravel, as Elder falls for Armando without explanation, sealing their alliance with the odd suggestion to murder Armando’s father. Unfortunately, this tragedy of impossible love has no room for happy ends, and despite this unbreakable proof of love which attracts Armando enough to consummate their relationship, his final reel disclosure is more a sign of self-hatred than some romantic notion of a love that couldn’t be. An intriguing portrait of two men locked in an irresistible attraction, From Afar lacks the passion to be a true love story. Instead, it’s a portrait of fear and self-loathing in Caracas, cold and distant.

From Afar is now showing at the London Film Festival

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