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Sunday, March 19, 2017

LA PARTIDA / THE LAST MATCH (2013)

Cuban-based gay-themed pic is nicely played & culturally fascinating, even when it takes a melodramatic wrong turn, blindsiding itself in a cluttered third act. It starts after a pickup, a pickup soccer match, that is, when one of the players comes to the aid of another during a post-game mugging. Two aimless guys, one married/one engaged, each with a young kid to support, one turning to pawn shops for cash, the other turning tricks, mostly with gay male tourists. (The scenes of Havana’s open, gay-for-pay ‘meat market,’ with hundreds of largely straight guys looking to make a quick buck, is eye-popping stuff.) But complications arise when one of the hook-ups, a well-to-do Spanish tourist, looks like a possible long-term relationship. Even more complicated when feelings between the two young men lead them past the soccer field and into uncharted emotional territory. But writer/director Antonio Hens goes off-message with a loan-shark subplot taking over the late action, and when nobody in the story reacts in a believable way to one of the guys being offered a try-out with a semi-pro soccer club. ¿Blowing off a shot at professional soccer? ¿In Cuba?

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: A Spanish director made this in Cuba. Was it released there?

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