The Lion

Director: Santiago Otheguy

argentina • 2007 • subtitled b/w • anamorphic • dolby digital stereo • 85 mins

In La Leon, beautifully textured black-and-white widescreen cinematography conveys everything that writer-director Santiago Otheguy wants to say about isolation and longing. Set in the watery Parana Delta of northern Argentina, the film’s gay protagonist, Alvaro (Jorge Roman), feels the solitude more than most, but only the conflicted local ferryman has a grievance that cuts through the laissez-faire communal attitude. The violent El Turu (Daniel Valenzuela) is captain of a water bus that links the isolated communities of traditional reed-cutters. Illegal loggers coming in from Paraguay are the embodiment of the threatening outsider for Turu, who reacts strongly when he suspects Alvaro of helping out the interlopers. Turu begins to bully Alvaro at every opportunity, but it soon becomes apparent that he’s unsure of his own sexuality. With admirable restraint, Otheguy presents the growing tension between the two men, nicely integrating their story with scenes of the watery network around them.

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