“UNTIL PORN DO US PART” (“Até Que o Porno Nos Separe “)— Mother and Son

“UNTIL PORN DO US PART” (“Até Que o Porno Nos Separe “)

Mother and Son

Amos Lassen

Eulália (Eulalia Almeida) is a conservative 65-year-old mother who finds out that her son, Sydney (Sydney Frenandez) who emigrated to Germany became Fostter (sic) Riviera, the internationally awarded first Portuguese gay porn actor. From shock and disgust to desperately trying to understand him, Eulália goes on an emotional journey that puts her values, expectations and perceptions to the test. The computer and Facebook are her main sources of information and communication. Her quest to get closer to her son makes her click on unexpected websites, meet unlikely people and challenge herself to see her son perform a live sex show at the annual Portuguese erotic fair.

Portuguese filmmaker Jorge Pelicano brings us a touching and often poignant observational film about a mother who is having a hard time coping with the fact that her son is a gay porn star. This is a documentary that uses a very intimate set-up to tell a story about a traditional family, communication in the age of the internet, and ultimately, acceptance and forgiveness.

When we first meet 64-year-old Eulalia in her apartment, she is sitting at the computer, going through messages on Facebook and looking at the profile of her son Sydney, or “Fostter Riviera, the First Gay Porn Star from Portugal”. We learn that she has accepted the fact that her son is gay, and even that he is involved in porn – but also that she cannot forgive him for not telling her. She cannot tolerate his increasingly raunchy (videos and photos yet she can’t not look at his Facebook profile every day. This is the only connection she has with Sydney who has stopped replying to her messages and no longer answers her calls. There are many tears and a great deal of sadness and prayers to her saint, Santa Rita.

Eulalia (Eulalia Almeida) is conservative and religious, but she is not uneducated or stupid. She is not a lonely woman; she has  a husband who we barely see, she gets visited by her family, and she is especially happy to see her daughter (to whom Sydney often goes to when he needs someone to talk to.) Eulalia works as a pollster. There is an extremely sensitive scene when she goes to a gay club and, after making initial contact, ends up polling one of the young, hip patrons.

Halfway through the film, we go to Germany, where we find Sydney preparing to shoot a porn scene. From this moment on, the movie opens up to his perspective (but not in as much in detail as his mother). There are more exterior scenes and a dynamic development as Sydney returns home to take part in a wild live show at the Eros Porto fair. Eulalia intends to see him perform.

The narrative structure takes us from initially feeling very sad for Eulalia, to understanding and eventually liking both her and her son. We also look at the complex and ambiguous combination of themes from traditional family to modern communication and technology, and how they influence once clearly defined social roles. We, of course, wonder how a woman like Eulalia would have reacted to her son’s blasphemous, immoral behavior some 15 years earlier, when gay rights did not include such universal social support and when porn was not all over the internet and Facebook had not yet existed. There is also the question of whether Sydney would have felt as confident moving to Germany and becoming Fostter Riviera.

The film is a structurally disciplined, emotionally engaging and thematically insightful film that cries out to be seen.

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