“MEN OF HARD SKIN” (“Hombres de piel dura”)
Sexuality and Desire
Argentine filmmaker José Celestino Campusano is known for a type of brutal realism that often shows “the origins of hidden desires and the energies that influence the nature and machinations of the environments of his stories.” He sees sexuality as the strongest of these energies and while the characters are neither likable or completely unpleasant, they are often divided between those who take charge of it and those who prefer not to take charge. . Those who take charge of it blossom; those who do not remain in a deeper underground.
“Men of Hard Skin” is the story of Ariel (Will Javier), a young and attractive gay man who lives and works on his father’s farm in a rural part of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The film focuses on his troubled and troublesome relationship with two older men: his father (Claudio Medina), who refuses to accept his homosexuality, and Omar (Germán Tarantino), a Catholic priest with whom he has a secret love affair.
Omar seduced Ariel as a teenager and continues to take advantage of his innocence and lack of experience with his emotions. Even though this began with a seduction, it is consensual. It is only because Ariel sees no future in the relationship that he decides to end it. The decision is painstakingly hard for him but it also allows him to take charge of his own sexuality and embark on an exploration of his desires, coming out of the shadows that both his father and Omar want to drag him into and where both manifest their own different sexuality.
Campusano is also strong about revealing realities that go beyond sets of rules and conventions. Here he exposes the alternate realities of rural life and the Catholic Church and in the process exposes the structures in place that ensure their legitimatization.