Marco Berger is one of those rare beings, a voice in queer cinema, who wants to be heard upon the conscientious and stereotypical musings of homosexual cinema.
His latest work, Absent, inverts the teacher and pupil dynamic of seduction. In this case it is the pupil, Martin (Javier de Pietro) acts upon or teases the reactions of his swimming teacher, Sebastian (Carlos Echevarria).
Martin is much like a femme fatale, a person who will not stop at anything until he has crossed the unholy line - and once that line is crossed there is not turning back. As the twists and turns occur, so the expectation of desire and lust is lost, as regret and loneliness takes hold. Martin can still grow into a man, whilst for Sebastian a career and reputation can lay in tatters.
The real-time first half of the film is shot quite brilliantly, using the naturalism and testosterone filled air of a male changing room to good effect; however, the effect is somewhat lost once the changing room is left for the outside world, so to speak.
Whilst the professional Echevarria delivers a soulful performance as the emotionally fraught teacher, the newcomer de Pietro, shows himself to be a novice and does not quite convince on the basis of this performance.
However, there is a smoothness about Tomas Perez Silva's cinematography - yet for me the film was not as definely told as a German counterpart, Sasha another piece of queer cinema which dealt with the proceedings with a bit more tongue in cheek and had an all around better resolution.
Yet, Berger (who also edited and wrote the screenplay) remains a distinct Argentinian auteur to watch out for in the coming years and works.
Absent is released by Network Releasing on DVD and is out now.