Glue

English Title: Glue

Original Title: Glue (Historia adolescente en medio de la nada)

Country of Origin: Argentina

Studio: Diablo Films, The Bureau

Director: Alexis Dos Santos

Producer(s): Alexis Dos Santos, Soledad Gatti-Pascual

Screenplay: Alexis Dos Santos

Cinematographer: Natasha Braier

Art Director: Nela Fasce

Editor: Ida Bregninge, Leonardo Brezicki , Alexis Dos Santos

Runtime: 110 minutes

Genre: Sex and Gender

Starring/Cast: Inés Efron, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Nahuel Viale

Year: 2006

Other Information:

Format:

Colour, Super-8 and 35 mm


Synopsis:

Lucas is a sex-obsessed sixteen-year-old who lives in Patagonia with his mother. He hangs out with his best friends Nacho and Andrea. One night, Lucas steals his father’s house keys and some money and heads out with Nacho to spend the weekend in his father’s empty apartment in Neuquén. The teens sniff modeling glue, watch pornography and masturbate each other. Later, the three teens attend a party where Lucas’s band performs. They drink and have a threesome in the bathroom. Lucas’s father arrives the next day to take the family camping. When Lucas returns, he hangs out again with Nacho and Andrea.


Critique:

In Glue Dos Santos adroitly captures the life of Lucas, a bored and horny teenager in a remote area of Argentina. The filmmaker expertly employs handheld camerawork and Super-8 footage to communicate the desolation of the characters and the barren landscape.

It is the intimacy of this visual texture that distinguishes this worthwhile film. Glue features a tactile emotional space – the nexus of heartache, loneliness and punk attitude – with utter realism. The film is shot like a documentary, which effectively provides the drama with urgency in some scenes, but an observational detachment in others. The soundtrack also features anthems by Violent Femmes that attest to Lucas’s adolescent angst and growing pains.

 

The actors, who all knew each other prior to shooting, improvised most of their dialogue for the film and made tape recordings of their characters’ inner thoughts. The filmmaker gave them a seventeen-page script with paragraphs indicating what each scene required to move the plot forward. This unconventional approach to storytelling belies Dos Santos’s intent to make a film that ‘is like the body of a teenager’1, with some scenes that go on too long and others that are disproportionately short.

 

Glue is an engrossing portrait of the characters’ developing sexuality and their intense sexual experiences. Lucas’s opening thoughts express his insecurity about sex and girls: ‘How do I know if a girl fancies me? How can I make a girl notice me?’ he wonders, like almost every anxious male adolescent. Andrea has similar thoughts when she is alone. She admits to preferring boys over girls when it comes to choosing friends, and she longs for a deep French kiss. Significantly, Nacho is never given an opportunity to articulate what he desires – though he appears to be an object of affection for both Lucas and Andrea. While Lucas’s roughhousing with Nacho is physical and very homoerotic, the boys never discuss any attraction to one another. They kiss frequently and fondle each other without it destroying their close friendship. The scenes of Nacho and Lucas sniffing glue and jerking each other off, and the threesome among the trio of friends, are erotic and atypical of (sex) scenes found in many teenage coming-of-age films. These moments are so steeped in truth and realism that Glue makes them sensitive, not sensational.

 

Yet while Glue gets the sexual fluidity right, this film is not just about the sex lives of teenagers. There are scenes of Lucas fixing his hair in the mirror, or singing suggestive lyrics he wrote that perfectly capture teenage life. The scenes with kids and their parents are even more authentic. Andrea’s fight with her mother, which Lucas overhears while hiding under her bed, is as real as the awkward moment when Lucas’s father discovers his sleeping, sticky mess of a son in his apartment. The film’s parent-child relationships are credible, especially in the way Lucas and his mother relate to each other. When he chides her for forgiving her cheating husband, it stings because his pain is honest and his honesty is painful. Given these family dynamics – and a scene in which Lucas’s father is thrown out of the house – the long, late sequence where Lucas goes camping with his family is both out of place and appropriate.

 

Dos Santos deliberately allows all of his characters to grow and develop – like the aforementioned teenage body – in spurts. Lucas may not get traditionally laid as he desires, but he gains a measure of sexual experience and acceptance. Andrea is also more self-assured and confident by the end, even if her relationship with Lucas and Nacho is undefined. In fact, what may be most refreshing about Glue is that Dos Santos is not trying to tie things up neatly with any big dramatic conclusion. The film, which is subtitled ‘Story of a teenager in the middle of nowhere’, is less a story than an engaging slice of life that will prompt fond memories of a viewer’s teenage years, or at least, gratitude that adolescence is over.

 

1 Kramer, Gary M (2007) ‘Teenage Angst and Coming of Age’, San Francisco Bay Times, 22 November, http://www.sfbaytimes.com/?sec=article&article_id=7080. Accessed December 30, 2012.

 

 

Author of this review: Gary M Kramer