15 June 2008

Queens | Reinas

Directed by Manuel Gomez Pereira, Queens is a feel-good film perfect for a Saturday afternoon. Some may be put off by its rather banal plot of homosexual couples being discriminated by their own families, but the film manages to add some spices into this seemingly overused plot. Sticking with the Spanish tradition of romance, Queens showcases the confusing, yet humane relationships centering on three gay couples who are to wed on the same day, the first day that homosexual relationships are officially legalised.

What I like about this film is that it doesn't linger on how gay couples survive through discrimination and hatred, but how their families, especially their mothers, learn to cope with their sons' sexuality and become supportive in the increasingly liberal social atmosphere. What is beautiful in this film is that it's life-affirming and so self-reflexively melodramatic (something which can be aesthetically done in films from Spanish-speaking countries where the strong, direct expression of passion is natural). Somehow through the sentimental lens mainly reserved for soap opera, it manages to portray how parental prejudices are indeed still present and difficult to eradicate, but also manages to show how they can be overcome or at least lessened through acknowledgement of love. I know it's another cliche. But believe me they know how to make it fresh and witty.

The main plot of homosexual relationships is just the tip of the iceberg. Other themes touched on in this film include class difference, political manipulation, the status of Latin Americans in Spain, and business-love complications. The overcoming of sexual barriers leads the characters to reflect on other imaginary borders set up through prejudices and of course realise the possibility to overcome these too.

The ending of this film offers something significant too. Watching it makes me realise that after all we're just a bunch of humans with desire and longing. We need to struggle (i.e. to live) to prove that we're still alive and to make us forget our unavoidable death. This is so Spanish!

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