Middle-aged writer Edu has been seeing much younger hustler Fabio but is getting concerned due to the fact that while it’s fun, they’re having unprotected sex and he’s worried about STDs. However, soon it’s not just the possibility of HIV that he’s thinking about, as he starts to fall for the young man, something Fabio initially appears to reciprocate.
Inevitably though, the age difference, concerns about Fabio’s profession and the very different lives that they lead, begins to cause tension and ensures this will not be a simple love. And anyway, is Fabio just playing a role to get more money and gifts?
Sometimes when watching a movie, it’s feels like they’ve missed important chunks out, leaving the audience to try to piece things together from what’s left. That was certainly my feeling with Aya Arcos, to the point where I was literally wondering whether large chunks of the movie had been missed off the review screener, or if that due to technical problems (it is a very low-budget movie) they weren’t able to be used.
A large part of the problem is trying to understand why these two people are together – Edu is perennially grumpy and, to be honest, annoying, while Fabio is flighty, rather self-absorbed and not particularly prone to considering other people’s feelings. While they do spend time together, there’s not much to clue you in to what they see in each other, except when they’re having sex or sitting in silence. On the simplest level you can understand Edu attracted to Fabio’s youth and vitality, and Fabio attracted to Edu’s experience and/or money, but that’s more because you know that’s probably what it’s getting at rather than because it actually shows you the emotional reasoning.
Even the inclusion of the possibility of HIV feels thrown in, as if the makers had heard of the disease last week and thought it would be worth adding in, but hadn’t really thought an awful lot more about it. The result is a movie that often feel pretty random and capricious, something it can’t overcome with a strong plot and characters.
Aya Arcos is not actively awful, but it is surprisingly dull, lacking the sort of fulfilling character development that help pull you in and get you to care about what’s going to happen next. It’s a shame, as there’s potential in the set-up for it to be a genuinely interesting movie. Everything from the age gap and possibility of disease, to the realities of falling for a hustler and a mysterious ‘friend’ of Fabio’s have the potential to make this is really good movie. Unfortunately, all these things feel disjointed and as if important parts of the story simply haven’t been included.
The movie is often a little confusing and at times a little bit lazy (not least in the character of Edu’s friend – pretty much the only woman in the film – who is nothing more than a cipher to let Edu say what’s on his mind and to offer underdeveloped thoughts on what’s going on). While in recent years South America has had a great track record in creating interesting and worthwhile gay-themed films, this one doesn’t work – and even a hot sex scene at the beginning (take a look at some of it below) can’t help.
Overall Verdict: I genuinely wonder whether there are large chunks of this film that for some reason never made it to the finished product, as it feels like a movie full of scenes where you need more info to be able to properly appreciate what’s going on and why, but they simply didn’t include it. Aya Arcos has lots of good ideas and potential, but it doesn’t pay off.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac