I’m starting to think we should just leave South America to make all the gay-themed movies, as they seem to have a knack for it. This Chilean effort follows architect Bruno (Francisco Celhay), who has a wife, child and a seemingly picture perfect life. However, he isn’t happy and is in the process of moving out in order to find himself.
Bruno is then offered the chance to design something iconic for Santiago by a businessman hoping to make his mark. This brings him into contact with history teacher Fer, who has been brought in to help Bruno with his new project. Fer is witty, lively and, as Bruno soon discovers, gay. Being around Fer begins to bring out something Bruno has been repressing, and soon a romance is blossoming. However, the reality of his former life and the big changes continuing his relationship with Fer will cause, ensure it won’t be an easy love.
The plot of In The Grayscale isn’t wildly original, but the story is well handled, well-acted and the film is well made. The movie has some excellent cinematography, helped by having a truly gay viewpoint (just look at how the camera caresses Bruno’s body). There’s a real tenderness and empathy for the characters, which is vital for a movie about a man leaving his family to ‘find himself’ if you don’t want him to appear selfish.
Indeed, Bruno is a character who in another movie could have been the villain – as he leaves his wife and kid, starts an affair with a man that he may not be able to follow through, and has a tendency to run away from difficult situations – but instead In The Grayscale tries to understand the emotional confusion he’s dealing with, as well as the fact he exists in a society split between the acceptance and rejection of gay people.
It does that surprisingly well, with plenty of compassion and a measured performance from Francisco Celhay, who is matched by the energy and ease of Emilio Edwards as Fer, a man who is in some respects Bruno’s opposite, as he is totally relaxed about his sexuality and place in life.
It’s slightly unfortunate though that Bruno’s wife is painted as a bit of a feckless shrew. Although aspects of this become thematically relevant, it does seem like a slightly convenient way of making Bruno a bit more sympathetic. However, it’s not too distracting for what is otherwise a good film.
Overall Verdict: Although its plot is well-worn, In The Grayscale handles it well to create a romantic, sexy, empathetic and well-made film.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac