Absent (Ausente) is a film that kind of lives up to its title on the surface but when one digs deeper, it is anything but. I have to say I found this Argentinean effort to be quite interesting and it took me off guard. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it, and the further I delved into the film the more I got out of it.
Marco Berger wrote and directed this film about a student Martin (Javier De Pietro) who lusts after his sports coach Sebastián (Carlos Echevarría), and goes to great lengths to spend time with him in the hopes that something happens. Sebastián at first seems oblivious to what is happening and he assures his girlfriend that Martin can be trusted. The events eventually lead to some huge regret with Sebastián however revealing more may just ruin the experience.
The first third of the film takes place over a small amount of time, and we’re really just thrown into this situation and have to work out what is going on for ourselves. The tension and sexual tension builds up to the craziest of boiling points, however it doesn’t take a predictable route. The next part of the film deals with the fall out of the events and the third act deals with regret and longing. We have no real background of the characters, so we can only assume certain things about them. This both works and doesn’t work, and this is where I found it be absent (pun intended). I wanted to know more about the characters, but at the same time it keeps an air of mystery about them. The story isn’t so much about them personally, but the actions and reactions of the situation.
The film has some great and quiet performances, with both the leads doing a solid job. The tension between these two and the chemistry was electric, the film would have been a complete and utter fail without it. Javier De Pietro and Carlos Echevarría really bring Marco Berger’s script to life under his direction. Both characters are going through different things, yet some how they are the same. They are both tragic people, and their own perspective’s as shown to us kind of show that really well. I was impressed with these actors and the jobs they both did.
On a visual level, this film succeeds perfectly, it is well shot and I was a big fan of the cinematography. It is a low budget film, but it certainly does not feel like one. Marco Berger knows how to shoot and layer a film, and he does it well here. It unfolds in an unexpected way and he makes it work, the final moments are beautifully handled and ever so heartbreaking. At one time or another we have all probably gone through a lust, longing and regret and this really showcases those things well. The film isn’t easy to sit through but it is well worth taking the journey.