Friendship and Sex
Matias (Joaquin Parada) and Jeronimo (Blas Finardi Niz) have known each other since childhood and have been best friends. During the holiday before they begin high school, their friendship takes a new turn as they both experience their sexual awakening. However, when Matias’s father takes a job far away, the two are forced apart. Because of distance and family contempt for homosexuality causes Matias to deny his friend, and ultimately, himself. When more than ten years have passed, Matias returns to his old town for Carnival with his girlfriend and he unexpectedly runs into Jeronimo. Feelings between the two men slowly reappear, leading to a long-repressed awakening.
This is the first feature film by Argentine director Papu Curotto. It is a classical story of estranged friends and their past is relayed in flashbacks throughout the film. We watch as the young Matias and Jeronimo go from inseparable best friends to something far more intimate and this ultimately leads to a break in their friendship. Because of Matias’ father changing careers and moving away, the two lose contact until, Matias’ girlfriend happens to ask Jeronimo to do makeup for a party the couple are attending. Unaware of their history, Jeronimo and Matias re-ignite their friendship and ultimately take a brief vacation to a family home that is so very close to both Jeronimo and Matias’ hearts. “Esteros” is a nuanced and tender look at the power of true love in the face of doubt be it both self inflicted and generational.
Visually, this is a beautiful film. It is shot against the beautiful Argentinean countryside. Director Papu obviously loves his country and is proud to show it off here.
While Matias (or “Matu” as he is affectionately called as an adult played by Ignacio Rogers) has grown up to share a relationship with Brazilian Rochi (Renata Calmon), the adult “Jero” (Esteban Masturini) has reached adulthood as a proud gay man. A trip to Santiago del Estero del Ibera (the wetlands of Argentina) seals the deal and reawakens the feeling long thought forgotten within Matias. Rogers is able to keep a mature and serious detachment from his feelings while Masturni demonstrates a reserved longing from their first meeting to the last moment before the credits roll.
The overtly and ostensibly innocent Rochi stands by as her relationship and her world changes around her. In the film, events happen as they do in real life. There’s no lesson to learn or moral to the story aside from the idea that “love conquers all”.
When the men returned to the spot where they had been many times before, they are ten years older. A lot can happen in ten years but love is not lost.