From Afar ★★★★

A well-done Venezuelan film about loneliness and alienation, this won the Golden Lion award at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. Alfredo Castro, often seen in Chilean films by Pablo Larrain, plays Armando, an isolated and yet calculating upper middle class man who we first see seeking out young men whom he pays to partially undress in front of him while he masturbates "from afar". The film details his relationship with one of the young men he propositions, which starts off violently and leads to a strange yet dependent relationship between the two.

This may seem like an unsavory subject, but the film is not primarily sexual. Rather it touches on themes of class, alienation, the damage done by abusive or neglectful fathers, and a changing dynamic from victimizer to victimized. Castro is excellent in the lead role, although it's one where it's hard to feel sympathy because he is so shut-down, cold and manipulative. Luis Silva, the actor playing the young man Elder, does a fine job of gradually revealing the hurt and needy vulnerability under the "street tough" exterior.

The photography is creative and well-done, the streets of Caracas seem chaotic and uninviting, and the direction is spot on. Apparently this is the first non-documentary film by the director, Lorenzo Vigas. One can see why it won the Golden Lion and other film festival awards.

I saw this on a video rented by Netflix. Am unsure if it's available to stream.

Stephen liked this review