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Almamula (Spanish) [Carnal Sins]

After watching the film, it feels like the film is full of metaphors, some that I understand but many that I probably did not. There are some odd moments story-wise, which seem out of place, and it is slow at points, but the film is nevertheless interesting to watch. Homosexuality issues are naturally mixed with religion and the authoritarianism of a patriarchy, showing us a snapshot of the society in a very small town of Northern Argentina. The movie also shows how important the legends of the country people are for that society and how they try to survive with that great weight and trying to solve it with their own weapons.

Nino lives with his family and he is in the midst of exploring his early awakening sexuality. At age 14, Nino is already a victim of homophobic attacks. To protect him, his parents decide to leave the city temporarily and the whole family moves to a farm near a rural village. The place is surrounded by the "monte", a huge humid and dark forest where his father works. Nino feels guilty for what he is going through and for having turned his family's life upside down. His sister is angry having moved away from friends but manages to find new young adult friends to keep herself busy. His mother wants to put Nino "back on the right track" and organizes his Confirmation in the local church. In this rural and superstitious environment, Nino hears about the legend of a mysterious creature called the Almamula, which haunts the "monte" and takes with it anyone who has committed sexually reprehensible acts, the "carnal sins". Feeling him struggling to fit in any environment, Nino feels if he does carnal sins he too would be taken away from the Almamula. He confesses of touching himself thinking of Christ. The Priest's sermons show Nino that his sexuality is not acceptable to the eyes of God. The pressure of the approaching Confirmation ceremony weighs on him as his fascination for the Almamula, grows. In between we see a hot worker, by whom some desires rise in his mother but who is the only one who shows some companionship to Nino making him feel he could sexually attract him. In a slightly anticlimactic ending, Nino goes into the jungle trying find Almamula, seeing it as a way of "salvation", and to be taken by it.

This film is more like a queer fantasy drama of a teen boy knowing his sexuality but feeling like a big misfit in all his surroundings. The cinematography and the landscape are beautiful and the jungle gives like a whole haunting feeling to it. Almamula shows the experience of facing our own desires, fears and demons, and deciding with courage which path to take. But what I didn't completely relate to is what was Nino going through. Yes, he knew he was gay and he liked boys which is clear from the very first scene, but was the story more around Nino trying to have his first sexual experience or was it about the struggle to fit it. Further complicating Nino’s situation is a difficult family life without any comfort from his parents. His mother does not accept his sexuality while also blaming busy Dad for not being in his life enough to keep him on what she and the church deem the correct path. It also doesn’t help that his sister is feverishly horny for other boys, which is accepted, or that he has a crush on one of the attractive indigenous caretakers working for the family. These subplots don’t add much beyond piling on more oppression toward Nino, while also showing that the individuals following the religious book don’t seem to be living fulfilling lives. is treated inhumanely and given no freedom to express his identity. It’s all an obvious metaphor that the real horrors come from within the real world, but gripping and evocative material nonetheless. The acting by the lead teen actor is nice portraying a quiet, expressionless, empty-inside performance. But besides that overall, I am just not sure how I feel about the film, so I would just rate it as average. (5/10)


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