Top positive review
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two young men engage the eye and the heart
on 20 February 2015
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.