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From Afar 

Wednesday, Jul 6 2016

As its title suggests, Lorenzo Vigas's film is all about distances, both literal and less so. Armando (Alfredo Castro) is a well-to-do, middle-aged bachelor who hires young hustlers so he can masturbate to — though not with — them from across the room. His initial encounter with the volatile Elder (Luis Silva) — the kind of pouty-lipped and poisonously macho street tough so prevalent in world cinema these days — ends with Elder robbing him. But that doesn't keep Armando from continuing to follow Elder throughout the city, continuing to pay him for his time and eventually finding the heart of gold beneath his hard exterior. Much of From Afar is framed from Armando's point of view, with his head in the foreground as he watches other people going on about their business at a distance, and what seems to be a fairly straightforward story of a hustler and closet case (cf. Boulevard) serves up some interesting twists. An otherwise unrelated first-act hetero sex scene seems intended less to convince the audience that Elder has a big case of the Not-Gays than it is for Elder to convince himself, while the final shot casts doubt on everything that occurred up to then, suggesting that we're finally seeing Armando's true motivations. Sometimes things change when you get up close.


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Sherilyn Connelly


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