Posted Oct 01 2018

LFF 2018 Preview - Papi Chulo

Dir: John Butler

Starring Matt Bomer, Alejandro Patino, Elena Campbell-Martinez

Matt Bomer is (initially) very sweet in his role as a TV weatherman who breaks down on air after the end of his relationship with an older Latino man. Ordered to take a break from work, Bomer sets about eliminating the remaining details of his former lover from his house, which includes having the deck repainted. For this he drives to the hardware store and hires a labourer – another older Latino man (Patino.) Clearly unable to cope with his grief, Bomer forms a somewhat enforced relationship with this new man, who is straight, happily married and has little to no English – although the two of them, when drunk, do manage to get through a delightful version of Madonna’s Borderline in the back of an Uber (the movie’s best scene.)

Papi Chulo does have something to say about the grieving process and how that can conflict with masculinity – but Bomer turns out not to be the man to deliver it. As his mind grows more confused and his desperation more palpable, Bomer simply isn’t up to the task of bringing a performance to match such themes. And the constant interplay of two languages being misunderstood soon wears thin. As does this well-intentioned film as a whole.

Papi Chulo plays the LFF on 12, 13 & 20

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