The summer after graduating high school is one for discovery and finding your place in the world. You learn more about yourself, your friends and your sexuality. Premiering at Cardiff’s Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival, These Peculiar Days (Los días particulares) explores a time in the life of a group of friends as they have to come to terms with these changing relationships both as friends and as partners.
In a remote cabin in the woods, tensions run high as a group of eight high school graduates come together one last time to enjoy a summer weekend away together. Upon arriving for the trip, Isabel realises her now ex partner Román has tagged along in an attempt to rekindle their relationship. As the group begin their weekend it doesn’t take long for tempers to flare, passion to take over and relationships to become fractured.
Director Chucho E. Quintero explores youthful relationships by pulling the teens away from their phones and in to this remote location, forcing confrontation and stresses to come to the surface. With little space to breathe and no escape from each other, the location has been used as an effective tool to explore these youthful relationships. Whether it is between ex lovers, new couples or potential flames, Quintero has been able to effectively delve in to youth culture and the way relationships evolve when you are young.
Told over the course of a single weekend and with little place to hide, These Peculiar Days (Los días particulares) revels in pulling characters out of their natural environment and forcing them to confront their problems. Some of the films strongest moments are when characters find a moment of peace away in the woods, when the present tense is mixed with flashbacks of the past. Through these flashbacks we are granted a chance to see how these characters reached this point. Using a grainy filter creates this sense of a distant memory, as though looking back at an old photo or videotape. These images are filled with sexual tension which bleeds in to the modern day narrative as we see the effect these characters past actions have on them now.
What is so often tough to capture is the awkwardness that comes with being a teenager and thinking you understand the world. It is perfectly captured between these characters. Longing glances across the room and moments of silence as these teens look to find the right words to say to each other all come natural. No time is more difficult to navigate than being fresh out of school and it is perfectly realised here. While many films strive for that level of authenticity, it comes natural here. In particular the relationship between Román and Óscar feels realistic as their lust for each other takes over. It’s rare to see a layered bisexual performance on screen which doesn’t solely rely on promiscuity, but with Román, the line is perfectly tiptoed between love and lust, showing how difficult it can be to understand love at such a young age.
In an interview with us over here at Gay Essential, director Chucho E. Quintero mentioned how in his home country of Mexico; “There are interesting things beyond the drug cartels and crime. There are more and more interesting stories being told.” With These Peculiar Days (Los días particulares), he has been able to create one of those interesting stories as he looks to explore the subject of queer relationships and sexuality. His Mexican-American style of filmmaking allows him to tackle these tough subjects from home in a way which allows for a wider, global audience to appreciate. Like his previous film Velociraptor, this is sure to go down as another essential film in the Latin American LGBT canon.
Read our interview with Director Chucho E. Quintero