Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Original Title: Mi Mejor Amigo
Argentina, 2018. Pensa & Rocca Producciones, Oh My Gomez! Films, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales. Screenplay by Martín Deus. Cinematography by Sebastián Gallo. Produced by Mariano Contreras, Pablo Ingercher, Daniel Pensa, Miguel Angel Roca. Music by Mariano Barrella. Production Design by Jimena Soldo. Costume Design by Jimena Labraña. Film Editing by Alberto Ponce.
A family of four living a happy suburban life allow an unpredictable, destabilizing influence into their home when dad Andrés gets a call from his best friend, asking him to let his teenage son Caíto come stay with them while he works out some personal issues at home. Andrés and wife Camila are only too happy to welcome the young man in, though his presence reveals that the sedentary life that Andrés is now leading was a choice he made to get away from a wilder youth that involved Caíto’s dad. Most affected is Lorenzo, the older of the couple’s sons, who is close to Caíto’s age and feels a deep attraction for him, pitying the boy’s disadvantage of coming from a rougher home than he has ever known, while also mixing in a slowly, quietly awakening erotic fascination with the older, buffer and aloof young man. Lorenzo threatens to ruin his strong track record as a good student and model son, following Caíto out on late night jaunts against their parent’s wishes, but we see that what’s really happening is that these two young men, both at a loss as to how to deal with the turmoil of their lives, internal in one case and external in the other, are finding a connection that could do them both good. Mariana Anghileri, as the boys’ mother, has a terrific scene with her son, explaining that what he thinks authoritative cruelty is actually her genuine concern (and a little regret about her own lost, wilder youth, which Anghileri throws in with effortless subtlety), while young newcomer Angelo Mutti Spinetta gives a powerfully vulnerable performance as a kid unable to find his footing as he advances into maturity. The film’s plot and world are familiar to anyone who has watched any of a million coming of age movies of the past, but the sympathy and intelligence with which this one tells its familiar tale, not to mention its notable (and, for some, frustrating) restraint, makes it a charming if not wholly unforgettable experience.