LOOKING, the film

By Pedro Manuel Gonzalez Reinoso

HAVANA TIMES — The LGBTIHQ&Z community – which I like to call this group so as to be all-inclusive – has to give thanks because today artworks which tear apart the avatars of this group are shown today, without a fuss or alarm, joining the (wrongly) named heterosexist “reality”.

Cubans have to chase down the weekly package of TV shows and films where such works are included, if we want to understand the ethical and aesthetic trends in the world. At least, with knowledge, we aren’t left even further behind than what we already were.

The national TV totally ignores these films with its restrictive policies, taking forever to decide whether they’ll be aired. And when they are aired, all kinds of interruptions or suspicious breaks happen which drive us to stop watching. That is to say: zero looking.

HBO is definitely the channel of sexual diversity in the US. It had shown courage and complicity a long time ago when it produced/aired top movies on its channels like: Before you know it (P.J. Rabal),  Hoje eu quero voltar zozinho (Daniel Ribeiro) Cuatro Lunas (Sergio Toval Velarde), La otra familia (Gustavo Loza), Kinky Boots (Julian Jarrold), Praia do Futuro (Karim Aïnouz), Pride (Matthew Warchus), Keep the lights on (Ira Sachs), Azul y no tan rosa (Miguel Ferrari), and The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum).

Or The normal heart (Ryan Murphy), which really stands out among the many others that come out from the Americas and beyond and which jump into the bullring to argue, to the point of influencing public opinion in converting the recently ended Olympic Games in Rio into the “most gay in history” (according to the EFE and other media consortiums) just by showing the uninhibited performances of these athletes with the forgettable distance of the native, naked Greeks.

You didn’t even try. You moved one day and left the next.

After a few TV seasons and a diverse audience LOOKING is now being shown on the big screen.

The celebration of this in a society, like the one in the US, which has voted in same sex marriage, is the reason that this age-old, shy protagonist returns to the city, who after having gone away for quite some time because of emotional and/or professional reasons understands that it’s necessary to witness a consensual union which was lived in this country up until now without official recognition.

Two consequences that came before this experience also weigh heavy on his return, but what holds more weight is the fact that two close friends decide to get married in the middle of a battle of doubts and civil solutions on a personal and collective level.

San Francisco, which is extremely tolerant, has a very famous “gay village” like that of Chueca in Madrid, Tampa’s “Ybor City, the Baixa Augusta in Sao Paulo or the Belgian Pink Quartier, and it shows off the nothing short of awesome name “Castro’s neighborhood”. That’s where, under no insinuation to the Castros, the film ends, in an unforgettable scene from the estrangement, zooming out, to the best western style film with a happy ending, like the climax to another story of equal partners who have managed to bridge their differences and come together.

The emotional ingredients in the script as well as the impeccable performances help us to digest this hour and a half thriller, which, like many never-ending soap shows, the catharsis often comes about at any moment.

The best thing about this film is that it was filmed entirely in this California city which, along with Province town in Massachusetts and Green Village in NYC, were the pioneers in issues of inclusion, acceptance and the struggle for respecting peoples’ sovereignty. Until they got the country to respect the logic behind their demands, which has now ended with this abominable marginalization which has gone on for centuries. Something which we Cubans, albeit tired, still wait for, jealous.

We aren’t watching a spectacular film, with a huge budget or fuss, but the complete opposite; slow and deliberate, thoughtful and sometimes sad, delving into the ins and outs of daily lives with restraint. However, just like any simple story and without aspiring beyond to the story of human lives and loves, which unfortunately today seem to lack in excess, I recommend it.

So the soul can enjoy it.
(OR so we can dream).
Looking (2016) –A Fair Harbour Productions—Directed by Andrew Haigh. Executive Producer Sarah Condon. Cinematographer  Xavier Grobet, asc.  With Frankie J Álvarez, Murray Bartlett, Lauren Weedman, Russell Tovey, Raúl Castillo & Tyne Daly (special guest star).

Note: Looking premiered in the US on July 23rd and only 15 days later, it was seen in Cuba thanks to the embargo and to the speed of our Caribbean piracy saviors.