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The Independent Critic

Nehuen Zapata, Oscar Genova, Marisa Pajaro, Javier De La Vega, Olga Perezgel
Jose Campusano
NR (Equiv. to "R")
103 Mins.
TLA Releasing, Breaking Glass Pictures/QC Cinema (DVD, USA)

 "Twisted Romance" a Bit Too Twisted For Its Own Good 
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Roberto (Nehuen Zapata) is a brooding teenager who lives with his family in the Buenos Aires suburbs. When he encounters Raul (Oscar Genova), a 50ish divorced man with a questionable past, he becomes instantly intrigued and despite Raul's obvious aggressive tendencies the two become lovers. Their relationship becomes increasingly bizarre despite Raul's increasingly violent tendencies, tendencies which intensity following Raul's brief fling with a younger Cesar. Suddenly, the intense yet violent attention that Raul has given Roberto takes on an even more violent edge that becomes potentially life-threatening.

Writer/director Jose Campusano's festival favorite Twisted Romance takes LGBT cinema into a unique direction here with a film that explores the potentially tragic results of love and jealousy, while creating central characters whose very story arcs are simultaneously unattractive yet absolutely compelling. There's virtually no way that I would say I "liked" Twisted Romance, but it was also a film that I simply couldn't stop watching.

At least part of the credit goes to Oscar Genova, whose performance as Raul exudes darkness and complexity and is relentlessly compelling even when you can't stand the guy (which is much of the time). The film itself, however, is less compelling as it requires a certain abandonment of reason and logic given just how repulsive of a human being Raul really ends up being. While it could certainly have been a fascinating study on that draw towards darkness or, perhaps, even an exploration of relationship dynamics or domestic violence or something along these lines. However, the storyline becomes so absurdly dark that attempting to explain it away as exploring the effect of jealousy begins to sound more like exploitation and less like a legit cinematic approach.

Twisted Romance does, however, play like a film that would command attention on the festival circuit and it did so quite successfully with screenings at Pantalla Pinamar, Biarritz Latin Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival and Paris Gay and Lesbian Film Festival among others. It was nominated for Best Picture at Mar del Plata.

I have a feeling that Twisted Romance is going to be a "love it" or "hate it" kind of film, though that doesn't really explain my own indifference towards the film. While I admired certain directions that Campusano went with the film and I certainly was intrigued by Genova's performance, much of the film felt so intentional about its darkness that it was hard to surrender to the story unfolding.

Fans of alternative gay cinema may likely find enjoyment with this latest DVD release from QC Cinema, but Twisted Romance may prove to be a tad too dark for even the most adventurous of indie moviegoers.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic