Plan B

English Title: Plan B

Original Title: Plan B

Country of Origin: Argentina

Studio: Oh My Gomez!, Brainjaus

Director: Marco Berger

Producer(s): Mariano Contreras

Screenplay: Marco Berger

Cinematographer: Tomás Pérez Silva

Art Director: Laura Martínez

Editor: Marco Berger

Runtime: 103 minutes

Genre: Sex and Gender

Starring/Cast: Lucas Ferraro, Manuel Vignau

Year: 2009

Other Information:

 

Composer:

Pedro Irusta

 

 

Format:

Colour, DV

 

 

 


Synopsis:

Bruno tells his ex-girlfriend, Laura, that he is going to win her back from her current boyfriend, Pablo. Bruno also tells his friend Víctor that he is going to do this by making Pablo fall in love with him. According to rumour, Pablo once slept with a man. And since Bruno is still sleeping with Laura, he thinks he can break up her relationship with Pablo by sleeping with him. At the gym, Bruno meets Pablo and they form a fast friendship. Soon, the men are hanging out – watching TV, taking photos, smoking pot and having sleepovers. Their ‘bromance’ quickly becomes something unexpectedly deeper and more intimate. Is Bruno’s plan working, or is he developing a real attraction to his romantic rival? And what does Pablo really think about Bruno’s affections?

 


Critique:

Berger makes an auspicious feature film debut with his outstanding Plan B. This comedy/drama deals with the fluidity of sexuality and desire as the ostensibly straight Bruno hatches a credible plan to sexually manipulate both his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend.

 

Bruno and Pablo may be uncertain about their romantic desires, but Berger is cocksure. He films Plan B in long, leisurely takes that allow viewers to watch these men develop their feelings about themselves and each other. A fixed shot of Pablo sitting, contemplating Bruno, and then smiling reveals a transformation without any dialogue. Ferraro’s performance is excellent; he deftly uses body language and facial expressions to convey complex emotions, and he is well partnered with the ingratiating Vignau. Berger said he specifically cast the two lead performers ‘because they were straight’ and admitted he was amused to learn that ‘Ferraro thought he was cast because people often think the actor is gay’.


The beauty of Plan B lies in how it depicts Pablo’s and Bruno’s friendship and how their sexual attraction develops naturally regardless of sexual orientation. Berger is specifically addressing issues of love, not sex. He deliberately does not give the characters a sex scene because the relationship between Pablo and Bruno is more emotional than physical. That said, the film is not without palpable sexual tension.

 

The idea of seducing another man to win back a girlfriend may be a strange conceit, but despite being in their late twenties, the men relate to each other through the innocent bonds adolescents often have as they come of age. When Pablo answers Bruno’s question about why he has not introduced him to his girlfriend Laura, he confesses, ‘I don’t want to share you’. Pablo justifies this as a reference to how male friendships were at the age of twelve, but the double meaning extends to their contemporary ‘bromance’.

 

As such, their sleepovers are chaste. When Bruno and Pablo share a bed – often wearing nothing but their underwear – they are participating in homosocial behavior that is, according to the director, prevalent in Argentina. Berger deliberately plays on this idea by creating homoerotic desire and filming his actors’ splayed out, near-naked bodies. Much of Plan B is effectively shot to emphasise – and allow both the characters and viewers to ogle – the attractive actors’ crotches, bums, chests and armpits. Moreover, Berger’s mastery in creating erotic frisson extends beyond Plan B to his award-winning sophomore feature Ausente/Absent (2011), and also to a short film anthology he co-directed with Marcelo Mónaco, entitled Tensión Sexual Vol. 1: Volátil/Sexual Tension: Volatile (2012).            

 

As comfortable as these two straight men are sharing a bed, Bruno and Pablo are teased about their close relationship. When a female friend prompts the men to kiss – since Bruno has insisted at a party that Pablo is his boyfriend – Bruno must man up and put his words in to action. This situation subtly forces the male characters to acknowledge the shame associated with homosexuality and to confront their own attitudes towards it. Morevoer, in one of the film’s best scenes, Bruno asks Pablo to kiss him – using an excuse that he wants to practice for a TV advertisement audition. How the men negotiate this intimacy reveals much about their unspoken desires. As a result, when they do kiss, it is sexy, awkward and funny all at once.

 

So, too, is Plan B. Berger’s greatest accomplishment is encouraging the audience to want the men to end up together. Significantly, whenever things get intense between Pablo and Bruno, the filmmaker wisely cuts in some still shots of buildings, to give viewers a chance to process the dramatic moment and adjust to how the characters calibrate their emotions towards each another. Yet just as Bruno and Pablo succumb to game playing, Berger reveals his manipulation of the audience, adding a final twist that makes Plan B even more satisfying.

 

 

An expanded version of this review, including an interview with the director, were previously published in Kramer, Gary M (2010) ‘Making a Plan’, Frontiers LA, 4 October,

http://www.frontiersla.com/Features/Highlights/Story.aspx?ID=1289309. Accessed 30 December 2012.

 

 

Author of this review: Gary M Kramer