film note: The Last Match

I recommend with reservations this sun-drenched feature from Cuba about the clandestine affair between two young men who also happen to be rent boys.

Last updated on September 4th, 2019 at 01:45 pm

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The Last Match
Original title: La partida
Directed by Antonio Hens
94 mins, Spain | Cuba, 2013

What rings true in this sun-drenched feature from Cuba about the clandestine affair between two young men:

  • The commonplace and relatively open nature of sex work for young men and yet the double-lives the boys lead
  • The rooftop escapes from languorous city streets
  • The out-of-time, decaying architectural ambiance of Havana
  • The way the two leads move in and out of each other’s lives as each scrabbles for a few dollars
  • The hope of escape found in foreigners’ trousers and in fútbol

All that leads me to recommend it despite the deterministic and melodramatic conclusion and the plot maneuvers used to achieve it. The ending therefore probably has more to do with Latino fatalism than with any particular attitude about homosexuality. There’s no punishment reel, in other words, and the film finds its own rhythm before the love affair ends tragically.

Both young actors are good, but Reinier Díaz especially, his character his own namesake, conveying through body language and facial expressions what it’s like to discover one’s passion and one’s body through the body of another.

This isn’t a movie about sex tourism, no matter what the press copy says — it’s a movie about those moments when you realize you have to choose to be alone in order to stay true to yourself and how hard it is to realize what those moments are before they pass.

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