Daniel (Javier De Pietro), Santiago (Marco Ribas) and Adrian (Agustin Pardella) are three longtime friends who take a camping trip together in Como Un Novio Sin Sexo (Bromance), an Argentinian film from 2016 that takes place in 1996.
The three aesthetically-pleasing (and often shirtless) friends have easygoing interpersonal relationships with each other – which are established quickly and effectively. But things get complicated when Daniel and Santiago share a kiss while skinny-dipping in the nearby ocean. It isn’t entirely clear who initiated the kiss – though an argument that it was Daniel is easier to make. It also isn’t clear how much Santiago enjoyed the kiss – if he did at all. Either way, it certainly freaked him out.
While grabbing food at the camp store, the guys meet a young woman named Julieta (Luana Pascual) whom they had seen topless at the beach the day before. Santiago makes a move on her and she joins in the guys’ reverie. Later that night, Santiago and Julieta have sex on the beach – which a sleepless Daniel sees. Santiago takes notice of Daniel watching them have sex, but he doesn’t stop – giving off the impression that he has something to prove to Daniel (and perhaps to himself) about where his sexual proclivities really lie.
Meanwhile, Adrian’s unseen grandfather is on his deathbed – a situation that plays itself out throughout the film in a bittersweet and ultimately heartbreaking way via phone conversations between Adrian and his father (the voice of director and co-writer Lucas Santa Ana).
Things come to a head when Juliet, frustrated over all that is unsaid between the three friends and how it affects her dealings with them, pushes Daniel and Santiago to tell Adrian what has gone on. Santiago smacks her and she storms off. In resultant anger over Santiago’s unwillingness to do so, Daniel boldly outs himself and Santiago to Adrian. A fight then breaks out.
The film ends with no resolution to their fight – leaving the three friends somewhat estranged and the viewer with no indication as to whether or not they’ll ultimately patch things up. So we don’t find out how Santiago really feels about his and Daniel’s kiss – we just know that he’s not interest in anything it could mean or what could come of it. Nor do we find out how Adrian really feels about Daniel’s coming out beyond his initial reaction – which probably stems more from not knowing about it at all than having any real problem with it.
Though set in 1996 (which, at times, is easy to forget) and seen in parts through Daniel’s video camera, the film doesn’t frame this storytelling in any type of recollection, remembrance or relation to the present day to answer any of the above questions – which is odd, but not problematic.
The film’s title is also a bit of a curiosity in that a bromance as we’ve come to know it (at least in the United States) is typically a relationship between two men – gay, straight or otherwise – who both feel some type of intimate way about each other. But since this isn’t exactly the case with Daniel and Santiago (who have some great moments with each other – particularly when they finally talk about their two kisses and eventual hookup), there must be some type of loose application of the term here or a different interpretation of it on the part of the Santa Ana.
Bromance is thinly-plotted, but that isn’t an issue as there are several story threads which play themselves out throughout the film and evolving dynamics between the characters – each appealing in their own right – to still keep the viewer interested in what transpires.
Read our interview with Director Lucas Santa Ana