Argentina once more proves it has a knack for gay-themed cinema with Bromance (originally titled Como una novia sin sexo, which translates as ‘Like a girlfriend without sex’). In the film, three young men, Santi, Adrian and Daniel, head off for a camping break in a forest near the sea. They have been friends for a long time and share an intimate camaraderie of playing jokes on one another, engaging in horseplay and having fun.
However, things begin to get a little more complex when Adrian makes a move and kisses Santi while they’re swimming in the sea. Santi isn’t ready for this though and leaves. Soon after they meet a woman, Julieta, who they invite back to their camp. Although it’s supposed to just be the three men, Julieta and Santi start sleeping with one another. While Adrian is less than impressed with this development, Daniel is dealing with his own problems as his grandfather is gravely ill.
Eventually the secrets must come out, and that could spell the end of the three men’s friendship.
Bromance looks at a subject not often dealt with on-screen, which is how groups of friends can sometimes seem incredibly close, without knowing all that much about who the others are inside. Here we have three men who are used to their relationship being like it was when they were younger – playful but avoiding most of the deeper questions, and making jokes to avoid things whenever things threaten to get a little too serious. Indeed, Adrian is increasingly aware that their relationship is based around the fact they don’t know the full truth about one another, and that they are avoiding finding out, but he has reached the point of unrequited love where something has to change.
Many will relate to the movie’s themes, as a lot of us have people we call friends and spend lots of time with, but if we really think about it, we don’t know much about them on a truly personal level. There are also plenty of us who’ve been in Adrian’s place – in love with a friend and not knowing what to do about it. Some may also relate to Santi, who may be gay or may be straight or may be bisexual, but doesn’t want to deal with it.
Both Santi and Daniel’s insistence that Adrian can’t be a ‘fag’, sometimes seems as much about having to admit they aren’t the friends they think they are as it is about his sexuality. While the characters of Adrian and Santi are quite strong and interesting, Daniel is more enigmatic. The movie seems less interested in him, which is a shame as there are some interesting hints as to where it could have taken the character.
Bromance is an interesting look at this close trio, who may not be as close as they think. It slowly builds tension, especially when Julieta arrives, who is a young woman with a good nose for the things the men aren’t telling one another. Initially she seems a good addition to the group, but as the men begin to use her to deal with their own issues, it’s only a matter of time before things reach breaking point.
Some may find the movie a little slow, as it gently builds the relationships between the different characters and explores what may be going on between them – some of which they’re aware of and some of which they aren’t. Its indie narrative style means it tends to flow and meander rather than having a straightforward arrow-like story. That allows the viewer space to contemplate what they’re seeing and consider what’s really going on between the men. That’s necessary as so much of the movie is about what’s going on internally and what they’re not saying.
However, the slightly meandering nature does come a little unstuck at the end, with a conclusion where it feels like they didn’t quite know how to end the story. There’s a sense that it doesn’t want to do what the audience is expecting and that it doesn’t want to be a stereotypically happy ending, but after carefully laying out what’s going on and who these people are, it suddenly muddies the waters with an ending what feels like it’s more about going out with a bit of drama and defying expectations than bringing clarity or conclusion to the themes it’s been exploring. While movies don’t need a traditional tie-up-all-the-loose-ends wrap-up, there’s a sense here that the film stops before it’s properly ended.
That would be more of a problem if what went before wasn’t as interesting as it is. Although there are flaws, this portrait of friendship and hidden desire largely works very well.
Overall Verdict: Despite a weak ending, Bromance does a good job of exploring how little close friends may know about one another, and the hidden secrets that can hide underneath.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac