DVD Review - Hawaii (2013)

Argentinian filmmaker Marco Berger is doing here what he's been doing in all of his previous works. His movies are all about two men. One is obviously gay. The other is of indeterminate sexual orientation but presumably straight. Yet, this other guy is always the object of desire for the gay one. The two guys for some reason or another will end up in close quarters or sharing living space, and inevitably the gay guy will do everything he can sub-Rosa to see the penis of the other guy and try to touch it, all with the hopes of having sex with that other guy. Basically, all of Berger's films are all about a gay man lusting after some guy of proximity. This is problematic when that guy is actually straight and doesn't return the gay man's affection. Absent (2011) is one such problematic film. Berger's first feature Plan B got the ball rolling, but, as Berger goes along, he's gotten more optimistic with Hawaii being probably his most optimistic and arguably his most romantic.

Manuel Vignau (Plan B) stars as Eugenio, an Argentinian man who lives in the home of his aunt and uncle who are away for the winter. Eugenio is a writer who is currently working on his novel. He does so, mostly in his underwear, or swimming trunks while lounging poolside.

Mateo Chiarino co-stars as Martín, an Argentinian-Russian who has found himself to be homeless. He lives and camps out in the woods. He supports himself by doing odd jobs for people and getting paid under the table. He starts working for Eugenio as a handyman, repairing things around the house, tending the lawn and cleaning the pool.

Martín realizes that he and Eugenio spent time together as children. They lost track as they got older, but now that connection bonds them. As Martín works for Eugenio, and spends time about the house, they reminisce and remember various incidents from their past, swimming and fishing in the river under the bridge or shooting a BB gun with Eugenio's father.

From the moment that Eugenio ogles Martín nude in the shower, it becomes obvious what this movie is going to be. It just becomes scene after scene of Eugenio trying to sneak a peek at Martín naked or exposed and eventually trying to cop a feel, or touch Martín's body inappropriately. He even pushes Martín to go for a skinny dip.

Both have plenty of shirtless scenes and it's mostly Martín, as to reinforce Eugenio's secret lust. What happens insidiously is that Martín starts to ogle Eugenio, so there is some reciprocity with Eugenio's actions. Eugenio doesn't realize it because Martín is more stealth, but it simply lessons the creepiness of Eugenio's behavior.

The film is about the loneliness and desperation of gay men in isolated areas like where Eugenio lives. It might be specific to gay men in such isolation that Eugenio's sub-Rosa tactics are the only way to gauge the potential of sexuality. Berger never really offers an explanation as to why Eugenio can't be open and honest, and it's a wonder why Eugenio doesn't use the Internet to connect to or find other gay men. Prior to Martín's arrival, it's just assumed that Eugenio must be shy.

Eugenio just comes off as pathetic, more pathetic than the homeless Martín, with no real reason why. The title is strange, given that the film takes place in South America, seven-thousand miles from Hawaii. There is an explanation, but Berger makes it so obscure as to be inconsequential or insubstantial.

This would have worked better as a short film. It's ironic because this feature follows a collection of short films Berger did. At times, it felt like Berger's short film El Primo, stretched out to a length longer than it needed.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains full frontal nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 45 mins.


  1. This is the worst review I've read about this movie. No, on movies in general, actually.

    (I should have stopped reading when the reviewer says that the film takes place in the winter)

    1. My apologies. The movie takes place in February. I live in the United States, where February is winter, but in Argentina where this movie is set, it is the opposite season. Sorry, that was silly American-thinking on my part!

  2. I just discovered this movie and learning evrything about it through the internet... A review is a review. A film reviewer is entitled to their opinions. However, it's the inaccuracy in your presentation that makes this review flawed. First, you dont have to be confused with geographical difference. You see them shirtless a lot and sometimes swimming in the river, make it obvious it's summer. Martin is not Argentinian Russian. He was only nicknamed "Ruso" as a child, but no link to any Russina descent. It's Hawaii because of the "dos ananas" that M was enthusiastically talking about in the pool. Those two pineapples being one of the Hawaiian slides in the viewmaster they had as children. For me it's a very powerful, engaging movie.

    1. You're absolutely right! It is a very interesting film, somewhat theatrical, even though several scenes do not containing lines, they are filled with emotions, either high tension or deep tranquility. It's great to change a little the genre, I'm tired of overly dramatic LGBT films, involving either drugs or prostitution, when not those two situations, is about a third element that disrupts the couple's relationship. Now, about the "Ruso" thing, here in South America, we have a joke to call blonde, clear-eyed people "Russo" and more commonly "Alemão", which is "Russian" and "German" consecutively.


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