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Young Hunter

Director: Marco Berger (Argentina). Year of Release: 2020

Ezequiel has known since he was about 13 that he way gay. He had a girlfriend once, but it didn’t feel right. Since then there were two brief flings – one on holiday in Brazil, another closer to home – but each time the other guy didn’t seem to take to him. He’s not a virgin, but neither is he very sexually experienced. Given as he’s in his mid teens that’s not too surprizing.

But now he’s managed to bring someone back at his parents’ large home. The parents are not around – they rarely are. After some time in the pool, the two boys are looking at a straight porn magazine, unconvincingly pointing out the women they like best. Then Ezequiel blurts out something like “shall we bang one out together?” and the other boy makes a rapid exit, saying he’s into girls, actually.

You can take Ezequial’s behaviour as a sign either of remarkable self-confidence, or of the difficulty that a gay teenage Argentinian boy has of getting laid. Whatever, Ezequiel seems to be a little discouraged by the snub and spends a series of languid scenes staring at lads doing gymnastics, watching skateboarders or looking bored when a teacher explains Zeno’s paradox.

Then one day in the skate park, he pulls. Mono often poses topless to show off his tattoos. Originally, he isn’t obviously interested in Ezequial but they chat, and as they are about to go their separate ways, Mono mentions that Ezequial has a hard on. So, it’s back to the house, where the parents are still away travelling.

Ezequial and Mono proceed to do those things that those in a burgeoning relationship do. They play on a playstation together. They sit next to each other saying nothing, not having to say anything. They stare at each other for hours on end. In other words, they do things which are life forming moments for the people involved but desperately boring to anyone watching from outside.

Mono entices Ezequial to a week-end away at a holiday home belonging to his cousin, who is not really his cousin. This house is also huge – maybe one of the reasons I became irritated was the relative luxury that most people in the film seemed to accept as their right. For some reason that is not entirely clear, the cousin comes with them.

Ezequial falls asleep by the pool and Mono and his cousin have disappeared. Ezequial worries that they might be sleeping together but it turns out the next evening the cousin will be sleeping at his girlfriend’s. This gives Ezequial and Mono some quality time together, though after the week-end Mono disappears and won’t answer his phone. Ezequial returns to gazing at gymnasts.

The film is about halfway through when something happens. Mono’s cousin sends Ezequial a video which he took of Ezequial and Mono getting it on. He’s threatening to release it onto the dark web unless Ezequial agrees to do what Mono has apparently been doing – seducing a younger boy then having someone film them for the purpose of blackmail.

For a film which ultimately is addressing very serious issues, Young Hunter doesn’t half take its time about things. If you like lingering glances, this may be the film for you, but these appear at the expense of anything actually happening. The drama never feels dramatic – not just because the victims are the pampered rich but also because we never see them feel anything.

Of course any film about gay relationships is both good in and of itself and a welcome change to the usual heteronormative plots by numbers that we get from most Hollywood films. It is, in a sense, progressive that films about gay relationships are allowed to be as boring as any Richard Curtis cliché-fest. This doesn’t make this one any good.

I spent most of the time wondering what this film was trying to say, and by the time it went and said something, wondering if it had to be quite so bland. I’m not a gay teenage boy so I guess that there is a different audience out there who would get much more out of this film than I did. Just next time, can they go and see it and let me stay at home?

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