Four Moons

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday October 5, 2014

Writer-director Sergio Tovar Velarde packs a telenovela's worth of gay drama into a single, elegantly made two-hour film.

Make that four telenovelas' worth: "Four Moons" follows for (almost) complete unrelated story lines, one for each generation of gay manhood. The youngest protagonist is Mauricio (Gabriel Santoyo), a grade schooler approaching puberty who's beginning to think about sex -- with boys, that is. Of special interest is his slightly older friend Oliver (Sebastián Rivera), who is at that troubled time in life where he's entered his teens and homophobia fairly spills out of him. (Not unlike Mauricio's father, actually, who suggests that his mother is making him into a "fag" by spoiling him and letting him cook.) Clearly, everyone evolved has some growing up to do.

Twentyish Fito (César Ramos) is a university student still living at home with his recently widowed mother. When he reconnects with a childhood friend, Leo (Gustavi Egelhaaf), their connection sparks right back to life -- charged with something new and erotic, though, which freaks them both out a little. Their story unfolds as a sweet exploration (there's an adorable scene in which they're trying to figure out how two guys have sex), but then internalized homophobia threatens to sabotage their romance.

A decade or so older than Fito and Leo are Andrés (Alejandro de la Madrid) and his long-term partner of ten years, Hugo (Antonio Velázquez), who are struggling through a relationship crisis. Hugo wants Andrés to be less "femme," while Andrés, a natural caretaker by temperament, enables Hugo's extracurricular activities by assuming that if Hugo has a new playmate -- a hot, self-centered hunk named Sebastián (Hugo Catalán), then he must need to change in order to keep Hugo happy and at home.

A gay elder, Joaquín (Alonso Echánove; the character's voice is dubbed by Alberto Estrella) is at the heart of the fourth narrative strand. A professor and moderately successful poet, Joaquín is about to be feted by a university for his contributions to Mexican literature -- a prospect that thrills his family far more than it does him. What really twirls his propeller is Gilberto (Alejandro Belmonte), a rent boy who prowls the sauna and charges exorbitant sums. A sweet and liberating relationship flourishes between the two, though (no surprise here) it's only after a rocky start in which Gilberto makes it plain he's not into the older man.

None of the four stories has an original plot, but the performances, and Velarde's script and direction, sidestep some of the creakier elements that would otherwise become pitfalls. There even some fresh twists and surprises here, all of which make the film engrossing and affecting. These "Four Moons" shed a gently illuminating light.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.