DVD Review - The Third (El Tercero)

Writer-director Rodrigo Guerrero has an interesting and compelling first and second act but no third. His so-called third act is like opening a window to a coming swarm of locusts. There's a pest of questions that just bombard and surround you.

The entire piece is unobtrusive in its camerawork and editing. Guerrero is like recent filmmakers of gay films, such as Jon Garcia and Joshua Lim, and prefers long, continuous takes, as well as few edits and few close-ups. There isn't much, if any, musical score. It's really mostly about the actors' performances.

The title of the movie doesn't even appear until 15 minutes into it. Prior to that, everything that's seen is off a computer screen. Cory Krueckeberg's Getting Go did this too, but Guerrero has the first three minutes just be a striptease of a young man via his web camera. This young man is later revealed to be Fede, played by Emiliano Dionisi. Fede is a college student, probably in his early twenties.

After the first three minutes, the next seven minutes is one, long, unbroken, online web-chat on camera but with text in the computer window and no spoken dialogue. The only sound is the clicking of keyboard buttons as each person types. The text is all sexual and a negotiation for Fede to go meet a man who remains unnamed, played by Nicolás Armengol, and for the two to have intercourse. During this exchange, Fede learns the unnamed man has a boyfriend named Hernán, played by Carlos Echevarría.

Echevarría is an Argentianian actor of some fame. He's been in several films from South America. One of his most recent is Marco Berger's Ausente (2011). In that movie, Echevarría plays a swim coach whom a younger man pursues. That younger man wants to have sex but Echevarría's character there doesn't.

Here, Echevarría's Hernán is the one pursuing the younger man. The difference is that the younger man, Fede, doesn't resist. The wanting of sex is mutual. It's bolder because Fede wants sex not only from Hernán but also Hernán's unnamed boyfriend, the ultimate goal being for all of them to engage in a threesome.

After the first 15 minutes and the title card, Guerrero launches into the evening and morning that pivot around that threesome. The actual threesome or the intercourse between the three guys begins at 45 minutes into the movie and runs for 12 minutes in length. It consists of four, long, continuous takes.

Three of those takes are of the guys in bed. The first of which has the camera turned 270-degrees shooting from the side of the bed. We see the three guys' bodies look vertical, even though they're lying horizontally on the bed. Guerrero keeps the camera still and medium so we only see the guys above the rib cage.

Fede is in the middle as Hernán and his boyfriend make a naked, human sandwich out of themselves. This sequence is concentrated in this review because it does become a concentration in the movie. Given this movie is only 82 minutes in total running time, arguably over half of it, at least 44 minutes are either in or about the threesome.

Nicolás Armengol (left) and Carlos Echevarría (right)
in the dinner scene of "El Tercero"
The other half-hour or so focuses on the three guys and their characters. The three have dinner, fish and wine. The dinner is told in two, long, continuous takes, each one about ten minutes in time. The first is just the still camera pointed at Hernán and his boyfriend. The other take is just the still camera pointed at Fede.

We get good information about the dynamics between Hernán and his boyfriend. Some of it centers on Hernán's mom. We also get interesting back story on Fede, and information concerning his sick mother, which Dionisi delivers extremely well, giving a heartbreaking performance. Yet, once the threesome starts, all of those things fall away.

After the threesome ends, there is a brief denouement where not much is said and then the movie rolls credits. The possibility of there being another threesome is tossed out, but besides the immediate, physical and sensual pleasure of the act as it's happening, there's not much to hold after the credits finish rolling.

The locusts of questions then start to enter. What does the threesome mean to each character? Is it something they do frequently? Have Hernán and his boyfriend fallen in love with Fede? Has Fede fallen in love with them? If they did fall in love, what would they do? Would Fede move in and have a polyamorous living situation? Would all three walk outside holding all three's hands?

There have been other films that have navigated through these questions as it's dealt with the idea of the gay male threesome. Three that immediately come to mind are Quinceañera (2006), Shortbus (2006) and The Houseboy (2007). In each of those films, we get a sense of why the characters enter into the threesome and why they sometimes get out of it.

Guerrero's movie leaves us with none of that. His movie is all about this one moment in time between these three and nothing else. It could have been similar to Andrew Haigh's Weekend, but it doesn't go quite far enough. It's sexually evocative, somewhat pornographic, as the first 15 minutes are sprinkled with in-your-face yet brief fellatio and even double, anal penetration scenes.

The acting from the three leads is above board. Their performances shine even more because Guerrero just lets them be with no camera moves or much editing to distract.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains graphic sex and nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 12 mins.


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