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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Milton Garcia, Reinier Diaz, Beatriz Mendez, Luis Alberto Garcia, Jenifer Rodriguez
DIRECTED BY
Antonio Hens
SCREENPLAY
Abel Gonzalez Melo, Antonio Hens
MPAA RATING
NR
RUNNING TIME
94 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
TLA Releasing (USA)

 "The Last Match" Arrives From TLA Releasing 
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A well crafted but not particularly involving film, Antonio Hens' The Last Match is a Havana-based story about two men, Yosvani (Milton Garcia) and Rei (Reinier Diaz), two young men who develop an attraction toward one another despite both having been in heterosexual relationships prior to their meeting. Yosvani is engaged to Gema (Beatriz Mendez) and lives with she and her father, Silvano (Luis Alberto Garcia), a living arrangement that allows him to devote himself to soccer. Rei, on the other hand, lives with his wife (Jenifer Rodriguez) and her mother (Mirtha Ibarra), an arrangement that is far more financially unsettled and leads to Rei's selling himself at night to tourists.

Both men live in unsettled environments and begin to discuss that they are happiest when around each other, an awareness that grows into a passionate attraction. Before long, the young men are acting out on their desires while working hard to keep it all a secret from those around them with, perhaps, Yosvani's situation most precarious as not only is Silvano more volatile but he's also involved in questionable activities that financially support the family.

It is Rei's talent that will eventually offer him an opportunity to explore professional soccer, an opportunity that causes stress between he and Yosvani and the already stressed relationship becomes even more stressed. Yosvani's attraction becomes something more, exhibiting a rather possessive quality, and Garcia does a tremendous job of finding just the right balance to allow it all to come out.

Picked up for distribution by TLA Releasing, The Last Match is a good film that never quite resonates enough emotionally to really become a great film. Director and co-writer Antonio Hens clearly understands his material, but considering the risks being taken and the challenges to be overcome it all just feels a little bit too neat and tidy. It's as if, perhaps, Hens thought that the material alone would suffice in telling the story and, as solid an ensemble cast as we have here, that never really happens.

While it may not live up to everything it could have been, The Last Match is still a good film with fine performances from its co-leads and the supporting players. Shot in Puerto Rico, the film captures its communal setting quite nicely and balances both the urban grittiness and the raw romanticism of it all.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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