That life can be full of surprises is something we’ve all experienced hopefully more than once. Whether it was having an unexpectedly wonderful time with family, receiving a financial bonus that you didn’t see coming or just being accepted for a job you’ve always wanted but never thought you would get, it all happened in one way or another .
Well, in the case of Javi and Ocho, it was finding affection when they didn’t expect. Now their story is brought to life by director Lucio Castro (“Trust Issues”, “With Mustard”) in his stunning, emotional and captivating debut feature “End of the Century”.
If you think that this movie was just an ordinary story about a poet Ocho (Juan Barberini) and children’s television director Javi (Ramón Pujol), think again. “End of the century” is taking place over twenty years, starting right in the middle.
It’s 2009 when we meet Ocho for the first time. He’s visiting Barcelona from New York and is renting a luxurious Airbnb. He’s certainly enjoying his time and the Spanish heat. Walking on the beach, watching the beautiful building and loving the local food.
His holiday becomes even sunnier when he meets Javi (Ramon Pujol). After just having a short chat, both men experience a passionate afternoon, which leads to an evening full of wine and crackers.
While the sun is going down in the background, both men are chatting about their lives and they get the feeling that they’ve met before. By using flashbacks, Castro makes it clear that they indeed have met ten years before that.
Javi was still married to Sonia (Mía Maestro), a friend of Ocho. While both Ocho and Javi didn’t come out of the closet yet during that time, they’re afraid of showing affection until one drunk night changes their future forever. The rest? Well, that’s history.
You probably noticed that “End of the Century” is about human relationships, feelings, (unexpected) meetings and choices we made. This translates itself in a slow and easygoing film that mostly based around conversations.
If you want more action-packed or exciting film, then we suggest you watch “The Invisible Man” or “Calm With Horses“. However, if you’re looking for a captivating and open movie in which emotions are key, then “End of the Century” will be right up your alley. Here’s why.
First of all, it’s the immense range of reference to (modern) society. Throughout the twenty years, the world and its vision on gay society changed a lot. Whether it’s from coming out of the closet to being accepted but also from how to meet your possible boyfriend or lover to sexual fantasies.
Elements such as references to open marriage, adoption, and Grindr but also WhatsApp and Airbnb are used when this film is set in 2009. Because of this, that film feels modern and contemporary. However, when Castro takes us back to 1999, there are topics such as taboo around AIDS, not being able to come out as gay and the traditional relationships are popping up thanks to which the society of that time is being captured most wonderfully. How 2019 looks like, well, you might guess that as it was only last year.
Secondly, the performances of the leads are such a treat and joy to watch. Both Barberini (“Penelope”, “Hija única”) and Pujol (“Don’t Be Afraid”, “Mil cretins”) make this film feel ordinary which isn’t a bad thing at all. You get the feeling that you’re watching real-life events happening and unique friendship and love blossoming.
There’s strong chemistry between the men full of tension. Chemistry you definitely can’t fake. Their performances are very natural, open, emotional and funny. The men get wonderful support from Maestro (“Grand Street”, “Savages”) who bring a female touch, emotions and a powerfully brought song to this movie.
Another reason why this movie has that real-life vibe is because of the way it was shot. For this first ten minutes, there’s no dialogue whatsoever. The camera just follows Ocho having a nice time which is more captivating than it sounds.
Once the men meet each other and the flashbacks and flashforwards set it, most scenes are static and wide shots that focus on conversation and people expressions their emotions. At the same time, Castro doesn’t use special effects or too overpowering music and because of that, he allows the actors to shine.
Despite all the stunning performances and the beautiful way this movie was made, the narrative of ‘End of the Century’ is a little bit off. The movie tests the audience when it comes to attention as the sudden jumps in time make this movie feel confusing at some times. At the same time, the ending feels a bit rushed and out of place.
After giving the world the beautiful “It Goes Without Saying” and “Honey We Shouldn’t Be Here”, Castro is now unleashing an even more gorgeous move upon the audience. “End of the Century” explores the ‘what if’s?’, how people change over time and which impact one tiny decision can have on our lives. All this in one gorgeous, captivating and bittersweet film.
“End of the Century” is now available via DVD and video-on-demand