The feature debut by Argentinian director Papu Curotto, Esteros is a retrospective drama between two childhood friends who reconnect after being apart for 10 years.
The aptly titled Esteros takes the audience on a journey of sexual discovery, no matter how muddy that experience may often be. Starring Ignacio Rogers and Esteban Masturini, and Joaquín Parada and Blas Finardi Niz, this film is a delight to watch, with a playful juxtaposition between modern-day moments and beloved childhood memories shared between two men.
Matí (Rogers) is a successful scientist and researcher in the field of botany. He and his girlfriend, Rochi (played by Renata Calmon) appear to be happy in love. Rochi drags Matí to Argentina to attend a Carnival celebration. A costume party, Rochi decides the pair will attend as zombies and enlist the assistance of a local makeup artist to help them look the part. However, Matí is surprised to discover Rochi’s makeup artist is actually Jeró (Masturini), his childhood friend.
Through a series of flashbacks, we find that Matí and Jeró were very close as young boys. Spending their time playing in the mud and pulling pranks on each other, as young boys often do, Matí and Jeró at first almost seem like brothers. During one summer, the boys go out to the wetlands with Jeró’s family. A serene, beautiful space, the boys find ample opportunity to swim and frolic in the water. Their friendship gradually evolves, however, when playful petting takes on a more sexual tone.
Perhaps catching on to his son’s homosexual tendencies, Matí’s father soon takes a job in Brazil and moves his family far away from Jeró. The two young boys are, presumably, forced to grow up in very different settings. Jeró appears to have freely embraced his homosexuality, taking on a gay boho lifestyle in the film and special fx industry. Matí, however, seems to have suppressed his sexual identity, leaving poor Rochi as his beard.
In modern time, it is blatantly obvious that Matí and Jeró still have feelings for one another. Not to discredit the script writing, but audiences should not expect to find any surprises in this story. Still, the simplicity of the script and accompanying cinematography manage to deliver a deeply emotive tone. This is particularly evident as Matí and Jeró begin to rekindle their relationship, this time with the maturity of twenty-something men.
Young actors Joaquín Parada and Blas Finardi Niz almost manage to steal the show in this film. Had it not been for a few strong sequences between the older Matí and Jeró, audiences might have forgotten about the parallel storyline. Above all, it is the scenery that is the highlight of this film. The Argentinian landscapes, particular in the wetlands, present a beautiful canvas upon which to build this story. A lovely example of filmmaking from a lovely part of the world.