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From Afar (Venezuela)

Venezuelan director’s Lorenzo Vigas debut film, From Afar, is somewhat of a mystery thriller, but also much more. The film tells the story of a middle aged man, Armando (played by Chilean actor Alfredo Castro, seen in No and The Club), a wealthy but lonely man with a habit of luring young men to his home with the promise of money. When he crosses paths with a young street thug named Elder (Luis Silva), their initial fascination grows to intimacy. When Armando’s past returns to haunt him, Elder commits the ultimate act of affection on Armando’s behalf.On the surface, Armando's fascination with young men seems limited to a kind of visual and verbal pleasure. Armando takes blue-collar young men home, and tells them to undress without ever touching them. But when he picks up a 17-year-old small time gang member, Elder, physical contact is inevitable as the boy assaults Armando after insulting him and steals his wallet. But Armando chases after him, and finds the place where the young man lives. Soon after Elder himself is beaten and Armando takes care of him. With time the two develop a close relationship that goes beyond their socio-economic gap, along some factors they share in common, like the estranged relationship with their fathers. And they emotionally bond along a father/son dynamic.Venezuela’s capital Caracas is itself a character in the story, a cruel and violent city which serves as a silent witness to the forbidden relationship, which defies easy definition. The film, which credits well know Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez and third-generation filmmaker Gabriel Ripstein as executive producers, is a drama that shows  what Latin American cinema has been doing in the past years with complex stories and strong narratives that become that are as varied as universal.From Afar is a story that goes beyond the stereotypical repression of gay relationships, expressing the aching desire for that which cannot be something attained, emotionally and erotically whether it be between lover and lover or between father and son. It is certainly a dark romance, a romance from the 21st century in the middle of a tough city like is Caracas today, and it makes Vigas’ directorial debut a film that is quite impressive.