From: Silver Screen

“End of the Century” is a genuine, bittersweet reflection of “what could have been”

“End of the Century” is a genuine, bittersweet reflection of “what could have been”

Juan Barberini and Ramon Pujol in Lucio Castro's "End of the Century."

Ocho (Juan Barberini) had left Javi (Ramon Pujol) in his past—or so he thought. When the two reconnect for one day in Madrid, their long-forgotten history resurfaces, and their brief love affair is rekindled. Though time had torn them apart, the lovers reunite for better or for worse. For both of them, their affair reminded them of when they both realized their sexuality. 

The first ten or so minutes of the movie is told without any dialogue, following Ocho through his mundane daily routines. However, the monotony of the first sequence is not indicative of the beauty of the film’s romance.

When Javi, Ocho’s love interest, first crosses paths with him simply by chance, it appears as if he might be a brief fling, based purely on their stolen glances and obvious tension. This idea of the “fling” weaves into their few moments on the beach to Ocho observing Javi from his balcony. However, as the plot unravels, Javi’s role far surpasses a simple fling. In fact, Javi and Ocho go way back, before they even fully realized and accepted their own sexualities.

Their romance was so compelling in large part because it felt real and organic, thanks to the two lead performances. Watching them interact, hearing their conversations—it all felt real and sincere, shot with a dreamlike quality not seen enough in modern films. Additionally, the abrupt cuts and long, scenic shots reflect Ocho’s mindset during the emotionally turbulent scenes. Though many of these jump cuts were a bit jarring at first, it eventually became more immersive and critical to the storytelling.

It should be noted that Ocho’s forgetfulness regarding Javi often seems a little coincidental and convenient. That being said, the way the story is told—with the flashbacks after the two reunite—underlines the simple beauty of their relationship and the difficulties that arise with coming to terms with one’s sexuality. 

The final act of the film was very confusing as there was nearly no preparation for it. Without spoiling too much, the lines between fantasy and reality become blurry, and though it isn’t the worst offense, it takes a moment to get settled back into the story. There simply is not enough time to completely immerse the viewer back in the story, which is an unfortunate flaw.

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The ending itself was devastating. It harkened back to a conversation between Ocho and Javi earlier in the film about the power of being alone—how we truly are all alone. The shots in this moment were long, lonely and poignant. “End of the Century” is a bittersweet portrayal of longing, and the happiness and pain that often come with it.

End of the Century was released August 19, 2019.


 

gbarry@theeagleonline.com


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