“La Partida”, a new attempt to broach male homosexuality in Cuban film

Vicente Morín Aguado

HAVANA TIMES — Circulating from house to house on flash drives, La Partida (Antonio Hens), with crude scenes depicting male homosexual relationships, is not recommended for minors, if such antiquated cinematic rules have any meaning in today’s world. Here are my impressions of the film, which I recommend.

The neighbor who copied this “scandalous” movie file said he was alarmed by the unusual eroticism between men in addition to the gritty details of repeated scenes about the loving relationships between young men, their links to same-sex foreigners, the money involved, especially considering the brazen way of presenting such acts, which he called “morally offensive.”

Nevertheless, the film is slowly making its way from neighborhood to neighborhood and, secretly or with some complacency, it continues to run on computers or DVD players.

The story of La Partida is simple, perhaps a little too much so, remaining a bit unrealistic, according to my personal experience and daily observations on Havana’s Malecón, as well as the opinions of other analysts who are valued for their indifference to homophobia.

It’s not possible to retell the drama here. The boy’s lives are vague, involving girlfriends and some hidden desires that become overwhelming when alcohol or other stronger drugs are introduced. Money is the principal protagonist, not only for the imperative need for intoxicants, but also for other needs of higher demand in terms of numbers, such as globally recognized brand-name running shoes or shirts.

The predominant impression is the existential void of the protagonist boys, plus the empty plot of the film, which lacks the connections necessary for reasonably explaining the course of the lives that appear on the screen.

The experienced Luis Alberto García plays Silvano, father-in-law of Yosvani (Milton García), a boy who ends up hopelessly in love with Rey, a promising soccer player in his neighborhood, played by Reinier Díaz. Silvano sells clothes to a young clientele, knowing that they will not be able to pay for it, generating debts that are impossible to pay and setting the stage for extortion.

The families of the protagonists never make an appearance in their daily routine. Superficially, Yosvani has a conflict with the macho father of his girlfriend, but in reality, the problem is strictly economic, barely tinged by rejection of homosexuality.

We know nothing about Rey, except his visits to the Malecón, where he took his chances with a Spaniard quite a few years older than him, earning a few pesos that did not cover his debts related to this desire to dress in the latest styles.

Of course, in such a busy tourist area, the police work day and night, uniformed and civilian, using well-disguised youth as bait, as well as the numerous informers, typically recruited from among the snack venders, bicycle taxi drivers and other routine services on the busy avenue along the sea.

The usual practice is to spot Cuban teenagers who are conversing with foreigners and, if there is evidence of an earlier encounter, to “lead them” to the appropriate police unit. But the corrupt adults and corrupting tourists are left with the opportunity to continue preying on the boys.

Although strong evidence of this exists, La Partida completely omits it.

The film advances along a central by very elementary drama, leaving one at a loss if trying to understand the behavior of these boys beyond their intimate preferences. Finally, the same plot could have happened between heterosexuals. The issue of what is vulgarly called mariconería in Cuba does not explain the tragedy.

What does worry me is the existential void of these young people, which is certain and provable if any sociologist dares to dive into the subject. The dialogue is poor, centering on clothes, dance clubs, money, and drugs. Sex is not talked about, because it is strongly expressed in images never before filmed in Cuba.

The film depicts generational contradictions with the Yosvani-Silvano business conflict. There is nothing mentioned to help one understand why his partner Rey decided to begin selling his youthful virility to foreigners in exchange for convertible pesos other than his debts with merchants. That is simply not enough.

Neither do I understand the forced logic of the ending. It seems that the tragedy was preconceived in the script and could not be escaped. Regarding the crude sex, it is doubtful that the images justify the plot.

I categorically agree with depicting loving homosexual relationships, of any kind, in cinematic productions, committed to the beauty of love.If the ideal scenario is found it will flow like the emblematic scenes of The Blue Lagoon.

Meanwhile, we have this new attempt to enter into a previously taboo world, reflecting a particular slice of Cuban life, quiet but existing, in every house, visible on any street corner, and we are all accomplices to the problem.

The film flies by in an hour and a half, shocking many, but prompting everyone to reflect. The universe addressed is part of ourselves. While I wait for more appropriate attempts at the topic, I recommend seeing La Partida.
Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]

Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]

4 thoughts on ““La Partida”, a new attempt to broach male homosexuality in Cuban film

  • I guess I am just a Star Wars fan.

  • No. It’s a very good movie. Serious and upsetting. The reviewer is right, the boys’ lives a lonely and empty, and their homosexual relationship is the best either of them can do, fragmentary and empty, but for Yosvani, intense. Graphic sex, yes, real and gritty but never pornographic. So what’s the huge complaint. I think the reviewer is giving into his Puritanism. You care about the characters. They feel real. The movie projects a sense of reality.

  • “I haven’t seen this film…”No comment should be added.

  • Yet another Cuban film about homosexuality? If you took prostitution, homosexuality and poverty as themes away from Cuban filmmakers, there would be no movies made. Why is that? Why are there no crime dramas, science fiction, romantic comedies being made? How many times can you tell the same story? I haven’t seen this film, but I am already bored by it.

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