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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Vil Romance" )


directed by Jose Campusano
Argentina 2008


Nineteen year old Roberto (Nehuen Zapata) spends much of his time away from home since as his mother (Olga Perezgel) and sister Alejandra (Marisa Pajaro) jointly support themselves (and him) through both prostitution and palm-reading. One day he is propositioned by fifty-something Raul (Oscar Génova). While Roberto gets no enjoyment out of their rough first encounter, he nevertheless seems to see something more in a continued relationship with Raul than a home away from home. Although Raul is noncommittal and only interested in Roberto when he wants sex, Raul is nevertheless controlling and possessive. Raul's unpredictable comings and goings, mysterious meetings, and phone calls from people who hang up when Roberto answers are less frustrating to him than Raul's reticence (to put it lightly) to let Roberto take the lead in the bedroom. While Raul is away, Roberto has what he expects to be casual sex with visiting Spaniard Cesar (Javier De la Vega, LEFT FOR DEAD), and is nonplussed when Cesar returns from Spain for another visit and shows up at Raul's for a visit (having secretly trailed Roberto back there the last time they met). Raul's unexpected return results in a bust-up that suggests that Raul might not only be a gunrunner but also a murderer (although we and Roberto never find out for sure). Having had enough of Raul's controlling behavior - and liking his criminal activities even less - Roberto tries to leave him and finds his friends and family threatened by Raul and his associates; however, Raul has racked up an increasing number of enemies so a tragic outcome is inevitable.

Although the film's English title is TWISTED ROMANCE, some variation on a more literal translation of the Spanish VIL (anywhere from "low" or "bad" to "vile") might me more appropriate as the central relationship is more dysfunctional than twisted. Despite some graphic sex scenes between men, it's less a story of gay domestic violence than a story of domestic violence where the characters are two men. It could have been "twisted" if we had any real insight into why Roberto's interest in shady Raul continued beyond their first rough encounter (upon their first meeting Roberto appears to simply be taken off guard that the guy is showing any interest in him at all), but the character is relentlessly passive (no pun intended) and the actor even more of a blank slate than a character (his arguments with Raul about quality in bed seem more academic than passionate when delivered so flatly, making it perhaps all the more appropriate that I describe it in such a stilted manner). While it would be tempting to speculate that Roberto's "betrayal" of Raul with Cesar might have less to do with seeking a potentially happier alternative than with having secrets of his own in his relationship with Raul (as a way of creating a sort of balance, if only in his mind), we're given little by character or actor to really relate to him. Raul is a bit more dimensionally sketched out than any of the other characters. We see that his conflict with his estranged wife's new boyfriend takes precedence over his professed affection for his daughter, and that he grossly overestimates his abilities to intimidate and coerce; and Genova is one of the few actors in the cast gives anything resembling an actual performance. It is interesting that Roberto faces no conflicts with his family over his sexuality, his mother and sister are openly supportive from the start (even though it seems that they may both be eying Raul as a potential customer of one service or another). Similarly, Roberto's mother has no difficulty relating her husband's abuse of her with Roberto's abuse (in fact, the mutual experiences of victimization seems to be the thing that draws the mother and siblings closer). The film does elicit a good helping of suspense during the scene late in the film where Roberto's mother and sister - having been apprised of Raul's abuse of Roberto and threats to their well-being - ply him with liquor and provoke him with talk about his wife selling the clothes and toys he buys his daughter. The ending itself is anti-climactic, but perhaps appropriately so in implying that some people (no matter how vile) aren't even worth the consideration or effort of a grand comeuppance. Although shot on film, the cinematography has a real DV look to it in its flat lighting, unbalanced exterior lighting, and handheld camerawork that seems more convenient than gritty. The scoring is also often amateurishly ill-suited throughout.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 25 November 2009 (France)

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DVD Review: Breaking Glass Pictures (QC Cinema) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Breaking Glass Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:45:04 (4% PAL speedup)

1.77:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.28 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English (burnt-in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Breaking Glass Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.77:1

Edition Details:
• Bonus Scenes (4:3; 6:54)
• Trailer (4:3; 2:00)

DVD Release Date: September 25th, 2012

Chapters 12



This barely dual-layer disc is not one of Breaking Glass' better efforts. Although framed at 1.77:1, the PAL-converted interlaced image is non-anamorphic (although shot on 35mm film, I mistook it at times for a DV film shot in 4:3 letterbox mode, but that may have more to do with the shoddy cinematography.) The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio is fine, but the burnt-in subtitles are simply awful. The literal translation is stilted as well as being full of spelling and grammatical errors. Since the subtitles are burnt-in, I'm assuming that they were burnt into the master (Amazon comments on the UK import edition mention flawed subtitles).

The bonus scenes are tiny extensions of the tops and tails of scenes in the final cut (they too have burnt-in subtitles). The only other extras are the film's trailer and trailers for other Breaking Glass releases.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Breaking Glass Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC


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