Main cast: Francisco Celhay (Bruno), Emilio Edwards (Fernando Contreras), Daniela Ramírez (Soledad), Matías Torres (Daniel), Sergio Hernández (Toto), and Marcial Tagle (Germán Schulz)
Director: Claudio Marcone
En la Gama de los Grises, or In the Grayscale for the English-speaking market, is a hopelessly typical gay drama: it’s maudlin, pretentious, and uses soft-core pornography-style scenes of male nudity and sex in order to prevent the audience from switching off out of boredom. It’s a Chilean film, so it gets the “Ooh, foreign and hence artistic!” film cred too.
Meet Bruno. Good-looking, really nice smile, average-sized circumcised penis, and I know all this because the movie loves to use scenes of this fellow naked and asleep in bed as some kind of artistic intermission between scenes. He’s an architect estranged from his wife, the daughter of a rich bloke that basically funds their lifestyle, and leaves her and his kid to take up a architectural design gig in Santiago. There, he lives in a charmingly tourist-esque old home which allows him to eat, sleep, and masturbate (yes, really) like he’s posing for an artistic for-adults-only coffee table book. Of course, this is a romantic drama, so he meets the tourist guide Fer, and discovers, ooh, he swings that way too.
Yes, there is ample nudity from front and back from Francisco Celhay, and I have to commend him for carrying the entire movie on the weight of his… er, shoulders. The one sex scene here doesn’t show any actual in and out, but there are enough simulated oral and handy acts of kindness to make sure that nobody will mistake that scene for, say, naked wrestling or something like that. Really, this movie is the film equivalent of those photo books that they used to put out before the Internet came and ruined everything, of pictures of naked men frolicking around in the name of art.
As for the love, it’s pretty jarring in the sense that while the two male characters are supposed to be attracted to one another, Fer’s body language often implies the opposite: that he is completely disinterested in Bruno and he can’t wait to be away from him. I don’t know why this is. Maybe the two actors just don’t like one another, I suppose. Whatever the reason may be, the two actors have zero chemistry and the romance, as a result, feels very forced and artificial.
The two male characters are unlikable as well, which makes it even harder for me to care about their story. Bruno is self-absorbed in every way, and his conversations with Fer in and out of bed are all about him. Fer is a typical stereotype of the gay guy that messes with a confused guy in such movies: he acts like he is willing to give the other guy room and space to find himself, but once he’s had the guy in bed, he’s pushing that guy hard into coming out and dry humping with public because he’s now into pee-pees now and everyone must know. Even the romance follows a familiar arc: they get into bed, then the family finds out, and Bruno immediately ghosts Fer because he needs to sort out the drama with the wife and he doesn’t need to tell Fer anything because everything is about him, et cetera. The only thing that is mildly different is Fer telling Bruno to drop dead, basically, when Bruno pulls that “It’s all about me so you have to humor me even after I’ve hurt your feelings!” crap on him.
Oh, and because this movie is artistic, it has no ending. The credits just start rolling in a WTF point and manner, and that’s it. It is one thing if this “artistic ending” dropped on me after a complex or interesting story line, but come on, this is a maudlin, dreary Hallmark romance at heart, only with pee-pees and butts and simulated man-on-man hanky-panky to give it the artistic credibility it seeks.
The only take home message here is that one shouldn’t waste time on sexually confused people that just want to use them as emotional tampons for rebound sexy times. Stick it to emotionally stable people instead!