Loving a Stranger
Robert (Pau Maso), a recovering alcoholic, returns to Budapest to reconnect with friends. He meets Hugo (Matthew Crawley), a stranger who quickly gains his trust by giving him what he wants most and Robert accepts Hugo’s idea of a weekend getaway, even though his friends think that this is not a good idea. What begins as a wonderful weekend changes when Hugo’s true intentions are revealed.
Hugo is handsome and confident. As Robert and Hugo interact more and more, Robert struggles with his traumatic past while trying to figure out what Hugo’s true intentions are. The film’s use of human behavior lets the viewer better understand Robert and his situation. He has had problems from a very young age and harbors many doubts about himself. As an adult, this has pushed him into complicated relationships with others who do not understand him and who do not treat him well. When he finds Hugo, even though he knows he is behaving rashly, he falls into him and disregards that Hugo is mysterious, difficult and arrogant. Pau Masó, who also directed the film, brings us a thriller about survival. What begins as an erotic game and pulls us in becomes a chase for life. We see that it does not matter how attractive something can be, we must act with care and suspicion before giving total trust to someone. We cannot allow ourselves to fall in love with someone without knowing him.
We must take care of who we interact with and in who we trust. Not only strangers represent danger and that a stranger can be an enemy. The film is really about the power dynamics in relationships and just how much we are willing to trust someone else in a romantic situation. We look at queer insecurity and what is important in what we think are loving relationships. We see how gay male identity is connected to sexual expression and that pornography can affect the ideas of reality and fantasy.
We learn that Robert lives with Christian, his husband but that they are really strangers to each other thus opening the door for Hugo, another stranger to enter Robert’s life. We do not know anything about him and every time Robert asks Hugo questions to get to know him better, Hugo does not answer. He’s aggressive in how he lures Robert into his seduction and is domineering and lecherous. We try to understand why Robert would go with him and submit to him. We do get something of an answer by the end of the film but there is a lot left that is not resolved. It seems that Hugo wants Robert’s identity showing that our lives can be altered by others when survival is necessary.