BROKEN SKY (EL CIELO DIVIDIDO)
Director: Julián Hernández
Stars: Miguel Ángel Hoppe, Fernando Arroyo, Alejandro Rojo
Available on DVD - order here
I agree with Salma Hayek (who exclaimed “so many Mexicans!” while announcing the nominations for the 2007 Oscars ceremony) that 2007 was a vintage year for Mexican cinema. Babel and Pan’s Labyrinth won deserved acclaim, and the lesser-known Broken Sky, while not in the league of those two other films, was one of the highlights of the 2007 gay film year.
Gerardo (Miguel Ángel Hoppe) meets Jonas (Fernando Arroyo) by chance on the sports oval steps of the spectacular campus of the National University of Mexico. The young lovers begin a passionate affair, but it soons becomes clear that Gerardo’s feelings are not returned by the beefier, flashier Jonas, who is ever-tempted by the eyes that fall upon him every time he visits the local gay disco. Waiting for Gerardo to become single is his secret admirer Sergio (Alejandro Rojo) who’s a bit older and more mysterious, and who spends a lot of his time appearing seductively at the ends of the shadowy university library shelves.
This is a slow-moving, elliptical film that runs for almost two-and-a-half hours and yet contains little more than a dozen lines of dialogue. At times a little over-tranquilised, it is beautifully staged and as Kevin Thomas of the L.A. Times noted, more akin to a choreographed piece of dance than to a film. The actors move around each other with hypnotic deliberation and the steady pace is broken every half hour or so with an upbeat disco scene. The storyline, too, has the slightness of a dance piece - two young lovers falling quickly into then hesitantly back out of love.
Unfortunately (and rather like the experience of viewing a performance of experimental dance) proceedings become terminally bogged down, and after the first ninety minutes, well-framed scenes and pensive glances through the venetian blinds become pill-free sedatives.
Though Hernández is an aesthete, the style of the film may not be matched by the substance of your art-house cinema’s seat cushions, which may start to become an issue long before Broken Sky concludes.