EmptyMusic Box Films
A drama of repressed sexuality that moves as languorously as the waterways in the remote northern Argentine region in which it set, “La Leon” is ultimately more notable for its visuals than its narrative. But Santiago Otheguy's black-and-white film is so gorgeous in its evocation of its exotic milieu that one is able to forgive its pretentiousness. The film recently received its U.S. theatrical premiere at New York City's Cinema Village.
The simple plotline involves two central characters, both plying their trades in the watery Parana Delta section of Argentina: Turu, the gruff captain of “El Leon,” a water taxi that serves as the principal source of transportation for many of the locals; and Alvaro (Jorge Roman), who makes a modest living as a fisherman and reed harvester. The latter is also gay, no easy identity in these machismo-oriented environs.
Turu, apparently bothered both by Alvaro's sexuality and his cooperation with foreign loggers that he considers interlopers, consistently harasses the young man. But it soon becomes evident that his hostility is covering up an intense attraction.
Filmed in a slow, hypnotic style that emphasizes the beauty of the landscape, “La Leon” never manages to make its storyline particularly compelling. But it does offer a vivid, dreamlike atmosphere that gives the proceedings the feel of an adults-oriented fable.