DVD Review - The Last Match (La Partida)

Reinier Díaz (left) and Milton García
in "The Last Match (La Partida)
Director and co-writer Antonio Hens knows how to make a sexy film. Yet, that's not too difficult to do in Cuba, especially when you have a bevy of young, cute, Cuban soccer players. Hens' movie imagines if two of those studly Havana footballers fell in love with each other.

In spite of the poverty that these two young twinks find themselves, the lack of resources actually lends more to the sex and sexiness here, if grimy, back alley, blow jobs are your thing. First, there's no air conditioning, and due to the summer and the intense Havana heat, most men in this movie feel the need to walk around shirtless.

Then, there's the male prostitution. The two main characters hang out at a cruising spot along the Malecón, an illustrious promenade. They need money. One of which needs so to eat. The other needs so to care for his wife and child, despite still being a child himself. Selling his body for cash to wealthy gay tourists is an easy way.

Milton García stars as Yosvani who does indeed look like a teenager, but he's actually about to get married. His fiancée Gema gives him new shoes for his birthday, which later get stolen. Yosvani works for Gema's father Silvano, played by Luis Alberto García, who is a very shady business man. Yet, Yosvani haply rides a motorcycle with side car, reminiscent of Chico & Rita.

Reinier Díaz co-stars as Reinier who isn't engaged because he already has a wife and a grandmother with whom he lives. He also has a son. Running water isn't readily available for showers. He instead bathes with a bucket. The cupboards and fridge are bare, so to feed his wife and child, he works for Silvano and what's revealed is that Silvano is Reinier's pimp.

What's strange is that one assumes homophobia in Havana has pushed the boys into the situations they have, but everything else around them would indicate that homophobia doesn't even exist. At one point, Silvano drops the gay-slur f-bomb, but it comes to be that ultimately his future son-in-law's homosexuality isn't the true thing that bothers him.

Beyond that, Hens' film is a better version of Una Noche by Lucy Mulloy, a story about a young gay Cuban who tries to get the boy he loves to leave the country with him. Both films even end in the same vein. The first two-thirds of the movie deals with a lot of the same themes as Mulloy's and many other gay films about two men in love but due to societal conditions can't express that love openly and freely.

In fact, the movie is a lot like Una Noche meets Brokeback Mountain. Instead of the two guys meeting every now and then to hook up on a Wyoming camp site amid the Rockies, Yosvani and Reinier hook up on a rooftop overlooking the city of Havana. All the while, it's hot, rough and sexy to the max, but, after that first two-thirds, there is the realization that the homophobia one assumes is at work isn't at work.

Toni Cantó and Reinier Díaz
in "The Last Match (La Partida)"
Yosvani's fiancée and Reinier's wife and grandmother all know they're gay and that is never really a problem. Hens misleads to think there's a question here, but it isn't. Reinier is even pushed by his family to marry a man, a wealthy Spaniard named Juan, played by Toni Cantó, an actor and former politican.

Once the homophobia is taken away, the only thing that is keeping the main characters apart is the fear of the persistence of the poverty. Yosvani doesn't care about his living conditions. He's content to sleep on a rooftop and eat other people's left over garbage, as long as he can be with the man he loves. Yet, Reinier is the opposite. He has the opportunity to get recruited to a professional soccer team and have a better life financially, which means more to him than being with the man he loves. This is evidenced by his continual insistence to play a kind of three-card monte.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains sex and nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.


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