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TREMORS gets 7/10 Shaking the foundations


Directed by Jayro Bustamante

Starring Juan Pabblo Olyslager, Diane Bathen

7/10

The scion of a wealthy Guatemalan family leaves his wife (Diane Bathen) after finally coming out of the closet. Yet despite finding happiness in accepting his truth, Pablo (Juan Pablo Olyslager), is confronted with the enormous implication of his decision, as he is forced to battle for his rights as a father.

The systematic dismantling of a person’s life solely based upon their decision to accept their sexual identity is grim viewing, and director Jayro Bustamante accomplishes this with a fair degree of skill and subtlety. Watching the use of religious attitudes for this, the hypocrisy inherent in almost every character’s take, is almost soul destroying. Bustamante presents a world stacked against the gay man, and one where the presentation of a facade of normative heterosexuality is paramount. From the male members of Pablo’s family, who it’s implied are closeted, to the female members of the family, who are concerned with family status and the household, each have their own reasons for not challenging social attitudes. Then there is the evangelical church itself, an ever-present force of judgement, apparently forgiving and accepting, but offering dubious help, and profiteering from the process.

That lie Pablo was living may be a handsomely presented one, as Bustamante uses a controlled and limited colour palette to great effect, but it is a lie and one that Pablo struggles to live with. By contrast, the gay lifestyle he lives is one of less affluence, but freer, more in harmony with the world around him. Although grimier, it is portrayed with brighter tones, less the browns of the family and office, or the greys of the church setting, but whites and lighter colour, representing the freedom of truth.

Whereas Tremors‘ intent is clear, it is a nuanced presentation. Few of the characters can be said to be operating purely from selfish motives, despite the despicable things they do. There often is a kernel of love at the centre of their actions, and concern for Pablo’s welfare, misguided though it may be. In the end, it is a struggle against societal attitudes, and the individuals are merely swept along in its currents. Perhaps there is some hope presented in the last shot focusing on Pablo’s young daughter, but it is a fight for future generations to take up.

Tremors is screening as part of the Moro Spanish Film Festival showing at Cinema Paradiso from April 24 to May 15.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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