In “Full Moon”, one half of a couple in a long-term relationship struggles to keep it together.
In “New Moon”, a young boy develops a crush on an older cousin.
In “Waning Moon”, an older man pursues a disinterested younger john.
And in “Waxing Moon”, two childhood friends reconnect as adults.
Together the four stories interweave – though don’t necessarily interconnect — to make up Four Moons (Cuatro Lunas), a wonderful Mexican film from 2014.
Hugo (the super handsome Antonio Velazquez) is openly involved in a new relationship with another man named Sebastian (Hugo Catalan). And while he tries to end his long-term relationship with Andres (the equally handsome Alejandro de la Madrid) for reasons that are rather bitterly expressed, Andres asks for more time to be what Hugo wants him to be. Andres’ determination under these circumstances is sweet and beautiful as opposed to sad and desperate, but it does make you wonder why he wouldn’t just drop Hugo as soon as he was told about Sebastian.
It also makes you wonder why he would stand by such man and how long he will. Then you start to ask yourself questions about what it takes for someone to realize that a relationship is no longer working and therefore not worth saving? How much disloyalty does one take before finally giving up on someone – if you ever do at all? And just as you start to sympathize with Hugo and the dilemma he caused for himself, Andres finally answers those questions for us.
Mauricio (Gabriel Santoyo) is at that “fun” age of discovering his sexuality and realizing it’s different than that of others. Mauricio is slight in build, somewhat timid in his demeanor and looks up to his older, good-looking and more self-assured cousin Oliver (Sebastian Rivera). That admiration turns to curiosity and leads to a potentially calculated moment of alone time with Oliver where Mauricio starts to ask questions about Oliver’s genitalia. This progresses to both of them showing each other their penises. Then Mauricio asks Oliver if he can touch it – which Oliver agrees to. But when Mauricio starts to stroke Oliver, that’s where he draws the line.
Oliver begins to turn on Mauricio and with the help of a few classmates, starts to tease him at school – which culminates into a fight that brings the parents from both sides into the same room for a meeting with an administrator. And in the greatest of nightmares come true for any gay kid coming to terms with their sexuality, Oliver outs his cousin to his parents, Mauricio’s parents (Karina Gidi and Juan Manuel Bernal) and the administrator by telling them what happened between him and Mauricio that led to the fight – not only depriving Mauricio of the chance to tell his parents in his own way and in his own time, but creating a tense situation in a home that he doesn’t even live in.
Professor Cobo (Alonso Echanove) is a celebrated poet with a loving wife, two grown daughters, a couple of grandchildren – and a secret attraction to men that sends him to a bath house where he takes an immediate liking to Gilberto (Alejandro Belmonte).
Gilberto coldly rebuffs Cobo’s initial approaches, but then relents enough to quote him a premium rate for his services – which Cobo pays out of money he and his wife were saving for their grandchildren.
Unlike the older man/younger man dynamic in The Witnesses (Les témoins), Cobo’s situation is a bit more desperate in that he’s long since been trapped into a marriage and a life that the era he grew up in all but dictated. So there’s sadness to the Cobo character in that you have to wonder why anyone would allow themselves to be repeatedly rejected by the same person. But at the same time, if you’re going to take such risks with the life you’ve created – even if it’s not the one you really want – it may as well be do it with someone you find worth the risk.
Shortly after reconnecting, Fito (Cesar Ramos) comes out to Leo (Gustavo Egelhaaf) and tells him that he’s falling in love with him – to which Leo responds that he thinks he is too. But when asked by Fito about his own sexuality, Leo tells Fito that he still isn’t sure.
This ambiguous aspect to their relationship works until Fito wants to take things further by making themselves an official couple and telling their respective families. Because of the religious nature of his family, Leo abjectly refuses — until he’s faced with the possibility of losing Fito. So Leo agrees to bring Fito to a family gathering, but then flakes at the last minute. And after a sweet conversation between Fito and his mother (who had initially detrailed his attempts to come out to her), Fito ends things with Leo.
Gay cinema – at least in the United States and within my purview of it – tends to follows the well-tread paths of crushes and unrequited love toward an ultimately happy ending of landing a boyfriend or husband. But Four Moons (Cuatro Lunas) takes a different approach with its storytelling and take us to frustrating places such as Hugo’s ultimate disregard for Andres, uncomfortable places such as Mauricio’s feelings toward Oliver, sad places such as the treatment Cobo endures at the hands of Gilberto despite having a loving family of his own and disappointing places such as Leo’s refusal to take his relationship with Fito public (despite rumors among friends and family about it).
And then Four Moons (Cuatro Lunas) resolves its four stories rather satisfyingly by not resorting to cop-out happy endings or arbitrarily bad endings for everyone to avoid the cop-out happy ending. At the end of each story, our main characters gain something but also lose something else to more or less come out even – which is far more true to life than either alternative.