The Last Match

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 29, 2014

From Antonio Hens, director of the charming and sexy "Clandestinos" and the writer of the comedy-thriller "Bulgarian Lovers," "The Last Match" ("La Partida") is marketed as "sweaty and sexy."

It's certainly both of those things, and there's a pretty familiar storyline at its heart -- reconciling your sexual identity in the face of an adverse culture -- that seems to be an anchor in most LGBT films. But watch out. If you came to this movie just to see beautiful brown bodies, perpetually moist and glistening under the Havana sun, you may be surprised.

"The Last Match" doesn't fit into a nice little package. Though it may be one of the sexiest films of the year, it is also a compelling social critique and a captivating examination of complex human relationships.

It isn't surprising that Reiner's (Reinier Diaz) mother wants him out of the house. He brings with him a wife and baby that he can't afford to care for since he doesn't have a regular job (though he does have a gambling problem). It is a little odd that his mama has no problem with him being a sex worker. In fact, she'd like him to marry a particularly handsome client (Luis Alberto Garcia) and move with this rich fellow to Spain. The money Reiner would make as a kept man could keep the family afloat.

The shy Yosvani (Milton Garcia) enjoys the hyper-masculine sport of soccer just about as much as he loves the aggressive power of having sex with Reiner, (which he gets for free).

Though man-to-man desire is an extreme sport no more delicate than cock fighting, the Cuban culture -- and Yosvani's bombastic soon-to-be father-in-law -- view homosexuality as weak.

Though man-to-man desire is an extreme sport no more delicate than cock fighting, the Cuban culture -- and Yosvani's bombastic, soon-to-be father-in-law -- view homosexuality as weak.

If jealousy and a gnawing feeling (that may be something like love) is a sign of weakness, Yovani's culture may be right.

The camera moves fluidly through the real locations, always remaining on the level of the actors. There are no complicated tracking or spectacular craning shots. There is no perfectly crafted lighting (so much a mainstay of our American cinematic vocabulary that we don't recognize how artificial it looks). And the images in this film are all the more gorgeous because of this.

There are no frills or special features on this DVD, just a really good movie.

Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: Spanish
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Canteen Outlaws
Run Time: 94 minutes