on 19 June 2014
Let's face it: the vast majority of the "gay themed" movies are quite bad, more like excuses to see hot guys kissing and/or having sex. If that's what you are looking for, then go look somewhere else. "HAWAII" is not "gay themed" in that sense. It's a movie with homosexual protagonists.
And it's not that it is short on homoeroticism, because there's plenty of it here. In fact, a key point of this movie is Berger's masterly use of male eroticism in a way I haven't seen before, not just to please the viewers's senses, but as an actual element of the narrative.
"HAWAII" tells the story of two childhood friends that meet again in their thirties/late twenties. Their lives are quite different, as they belong to different social classes. A strange play starts between the two, fueled by sexual tension and the desire to control the situation. But the intimate moments they share, and the memories of their childhood, gradually reveal their feelings for each other, and put their differences to the test.
There's a lot more to talk about, but I don't want to spoil anything. It's surprising how a simple story like this can become a movie with so many layers of meaning. It's better to watch it several times, because there are so many details that will probably go unnoticed at first.
Just a warning: the start of the movie is a quite slow prologue in which nothing interesting seems to be happening. Don't worry and keep watching it. It's worth your time.
One of the best movies I have seen in a while.
Hawaii is a bit like an old silent film, except that it's in colour, and deals overtly with modes of feeling that were not possible in those days. The music plays a very prominent role, especially at the beginning and end, often covering the dialogue to create an atmosphere. It is all about the images and their precise tone which is given through the music, which has an orchestral/chamber richness but always on the gentle side. Where the two men do speak, the amount of information tends to be surprisingly abundant, so that those moments do register, and you have to concentrate. Not much happens but it is a subtle portrayal of a growing love which leaves quite a lot open to the viewer. There is, quite literally, a viewer for discs of slides that seems to work as a metaphor for the writer character to see into his own heart, and this motif appears only towards the end. If the pacing were faster, it would not register properly. This character, Eugenio, is quite middle-class and staying in his uncle's house, while Martin is a drifter born on the wrong side of the tracks whose aunt has gone from the village of his childhood. He's the kind of character more common in American films. Both men are attractive on screen without conforming to the pinup stereotype: Mateo Chiarino, for instance, is marvellously ungym-toned for someone of his physical type, but his natural body, with its undeveloped shoulders, is very alluring. They both look exposed without their t-shirts, as opposed to naturally half-naked. Typically of Marco Berger, there is a surprisingly intense charge to some of the scenes and the voyeurism of gazing at the boys in their underwear is certainly a factor. Still, if Hitchcock can do it with women ... The context here is diametrically the opposite of the master of suspense, intimacy being everything. Nevertheless there is a huge penknife on one of Eugenio's t-shirts and a disturbing incident of cruelty from the men's childhoods is mentioned. Not much is made of these things, except perhaps to suggest other notes floating in the background that may be a part of life, but not in this idyllic phase of early maturity. I did wonder if it wasn't a little too low-key but this is what is so daring about it - it adopts an intimate tone and keeps its eye on the sensuality of these characters in their summer bubble.
on 2 May 2014
I'm a big fan of Marco Berger's work, having really enjoyed both Plan B and Absent. Hawaii might just be the best of the these movies. A slow burner with minimal dialogue, it manages to draw you in to these two men's lives, both quietly going about their lives with very little contact with others. The pacing is excellent and for me I was rooting for these two. You won't be disappointed with this film, it's a great movie.
on 23 September 2014
An enjoyable film, beautiful to look at, I acknowledge that some people may think it was slow, for me the film kept moving and when you thought that it was slowing down it took an twist to the plot and kept the story line going. The acting of the two main lead actors was very good, the visual aspect of the film is first class and full credit must go to the director for keeping a tight rein on the production of the film.
on 21 December 2014
So agonisingly S.L.O.W- Its like when you fancy the pants of someone- and its all there in front of you- and you just can't touch!
Ok I know most men are straight- which renders a lot of gay men to this frustaration- but this is a movie! At least-for ONCE-we could have had a bit faster conclusion to the agony.
I wouldn't say this is a good film- its basically like extended foreplay - that goes on and on and on - whilst your frustrations build up and up and up! Personally- I think the ending was a cop-out.
A queer eye for the straight guy.
on 24 June 2014
I was completely charmed by this film; an absolute delight. It is an old-fashioned love story in which the two main players just happen to be men. No overt sex, no politics, just love. Congratulations to the cast and director.
on 16 November 2014
WoW. This film though! By far, through and through, best movie I've ever seen. Gay films are usually really bad, this is rare gem. Heart completely in tatters -- wo0f. Thank you for bringing this to life.
on 28 July 2014
Totally loved this film. I love the slow burn of the storyline. Beautifully filmed. A rarity in this genre of films. Well worth seeing.
on 10 October 2015
Cinema audiences today are bombarded with so much vacuous content – tokenistic action, violence, movement and noise. It is therefore an immense pleasure to find oneself in the hands of a filmmaker who is interested in documenting the quiet, more meaningful moments of human experience. Argentinian director, Marco Berger, has already garnered international acclaim for his first two features – the tentative but original, Plan B, and the poetic, Teddy Award winning, Absent. In Hawaii, he continues to explore a now familiar motif in his work – the developing sexual tension between male protagonists. In Plan B, this concept manifests as an experimental subversion of societal norms. In Absent, he depicts how the transgression of these norms can have dangerous ramifications. In Hawaii, he has produced something quite unique – the cinematic rendering of the male body as object of desire.
He achieves this by juxtaposing the lives of two men from completely different socio-economic backgrounds. Eugenio (Mateo Chiarino) is an itinerant labourer, sleeping rough in the small Argentinian town where he lived as a child and to which he has recently returned. When searching for work, he encounters childhood friend Martin (Manuel Vignau) who is living alone at his family’s country home. When Martin offers Eugenio work, and ultimately live-in accommodation, their obvious attraction for each other escalates during the warm, often languid, days of the Argentinian summer.
Although Eugenio initially devises a series of harmless conceits to shroud his apparent homelessness, Martin’s status as published writer and inheritor of family property makes it clear that he is in the more economically fortunate position. Thus, Martin bestows Eugenio with gifts of books, clothes, food and various domestic comforts. These seeming acts of charity serve the dual function of allowing Martin to contrive and choreograph situations that will render Euginio naked. What ensues is a kind of homoerotic spectacle where both men use their bodies to compete in a subtle power play.
An important ingredient in the aesthetic design of Berger’s vision is Tomas Perez Silva’s cinematography. Silva had already demonstrated an eye for unconventional camera angles and provocative framing in Berger’s earlier films. In Hawaii, he is faithful to the sexually charged point of view by using shots that focus and linger on pivotal parts of the actors’ bodies - a technique rarely seen in mainstream cinema today. Although there is much provocation aroused by shots of, say, Martin’s wet swimming trunks, it is the wider possibilities of how the couples’ accelerating desires will be satiated that we are even more interested in. This is due to the impressive cumulative effects of Berger and Silva’s collaboration and the reason why they are two of the finest talents in world cinema today.
Another reason why the film is successful on many levels is the inspired casting of Vignau and Chiarino. Both transcend their obvious heartthrob appeal to turn-in performances that imbue the film with realism and restraint. Vignau, in particular, has the actorly skill of suggesting thought and feelings that breath life into an otherwise deceptively static frame.
Perhaps the film’s only limitation is that, by the end, we do not gain a particularly deep comprehension of exactly who these characters are. Therefore, I do feel that it may have been instructive for Berger to have incorporated some additional dialogue that may have provided further psychological insight. Despite this, it is worth acknowledging just what a finely tuned and delicately balanced work Hawaii is. A film that so easily could have been derailed by pseudo-pornographic excess is, in actuality, one of the most evocative mood pieces I have seen.
on 7 May 2015
"Hawaii" is a film that demonstrates the power of the Internet and social media in its very genesis. Argentine auteur Marco Berger successfully raised the monies for this movie through a Kickstarter campaign, and those who contributed financially certainly received value for their money. It is a pastoral sojourn centred around a house in a small town in the Argentine countryside. The residence with its pool and the lush green lands' surrounding it create an enclosed little world, an island in which two men interact and come to know each other.
From the very first meeting of Eugenio, the intellectual who lives on the property, and Martin, the wayfarer who seeks employment, the chemistry between them is obvious. It is emphasized by the fact that they discover that they knew each other as boys and were playmates. Director Berger allows the relationship between the two to build slowly at a pace that is nearly glacial, more European in style than North American. There are periods of silence where the camera slowly reveals the characters expressions and the scenery around them.
Guileless, ever-so-appealing Martin shows all of his emotions in his face, and at times, with his body language. Much of the time you know just what he is thinking before he says anything. What he does conceal is revealed through his expressions as being troubling to him. Eugenio displays not just an attraction to Martin, but a caring for his welfare, as well, that reveals a sweet side to his nature. One nice thing that is a pleasant contrast to so many movies with gay characters is that it is shown by a visit by kin and by remembrances from the past that Eugenio comes from a happy, loving family.
In a dreamy, languid manner, director Berger, and actors Mateo Chiarino as Martin and Manuel Vignau as Eugenio, allow the story to evolve and for the men to show their growing affection for each other by glances, and by what they don't say as much as they do say. The things they do make sense and are not forced, and the viewer comes to like them and have a desire as to how he wants this tale to progress. It is refreshing to watch a film that features two good, decent human beings.
This is not a fast-paced film with either metaphorical or literal fireworks: It unfolds deliberately and quietly. It is a movie to watch in the evening with a glass of Argentine Malbec or Merlot when you are in a pensive mood and would like to see something soothing. The two actors and the lovely Argentine scenery deliver that. I do know that if Marco Berger ever turns to Kickstarter again to fund a project, I will definitely donate to him.
The movie on DVD is in Spanish with the option offered of English subtitles.
In addition to this film, the NTSC Region 1 DVD, also, has trailers for the movies: "Cal," "I'm A Porn Star," "Last Match," "Matterhorn" and "Truth."
This film is on my "Great & Good Gay Movies For The 2010's" Amazon Listmania List.
Ron's Grade: B+