Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Federico Veiroj's charming and sexy THE APOSTATE stars a very hot new actor

What a sleepy little sleeper is the low-key-but-delightful new film from Uruguay, THE APOSTATE (El apóstata)! All about a gifted young man, Gonzalo, who wants to go his own odd way but is blocked at every turn by family, educators and most especially religion. An "apostate" is one who leaves his former beliefs behind -- in this case, his belief in The Catholic Church. But in Uruguay, evidently (and probably elsewhere in Latin America), this is not at all an easy task.

As co-written and directed by Federico Veiroj (shown at left, and who a few years back gave us another marvelous little gem called A Useful Life), the movie thrusts upon the screen a remarkable debut by a new leading man named Álvaro Ogalla, who makes a stunning impression by simply being quiet, retiring, and super sexy as he eases himself into the lives (and sometimes the apertures) of various characters around him. Señor Ogalla, shown above, below and further below (who was also a co-writer of the film), has a slightly goofy, often-sleepy-looking-but-handsome face, and a body built for action that he is happy to place on display, occasionally full-frontal, for us to relish.

But, as with all else that this unusual actor does, he never seems to push a thing, so that whether he is climbing softly into bed with the cousin he adores, speaking with the churchmen from whom he hopes to dis-attach, or giving lessons to the young boy whom he tutors regularly, he is simply "there" -- helpful, ready and available for whatever comes along.

This would include everything from having to repeat a university class due to his insistence upon saying what he believes to engaging in sex on a bus with a rather aggressive older woman. The women in his life include that cousin, played with halting affection and surprising ease by Marta Larralde (yes: that nasty Belén from Gran Hotel), shown below,

the mother of the student he tutors (the fine Bárbara Lennie, recently seen in Magical Girl), and our hero's own mother, played by Vicky Peña (shown below).

Our hero seems to be able to negotiate family better than he can The Church, which is as devious as it is intractable (and brought to fine, funny, shifty life by Juan Calot, below). Even the young altar boy (shown at bottom), who has taken a vow of silence, seems a little "off" somehow.

But everything rests on Veiroj's low-key, comic style and Ogalla's equally subdued but extremely witty and charismatic performance. Were anything more heavy-handed here, the film might have seemed overblown, even as it caused a stir amongst the uber-religious.

But so clever, charming and entertaining is it that it probably went right around and over the heads of most of the clergy. Also, its main character might seem something of a dolt to those not paying keen attention. He is anything but. He'll have his way by hook or by crook, and one gets the sense that this guy is going to succeed brightly in life -- once he determines just what it is he finally wants to do.

Via Spain, France and Uruguay, and being released here in the USA by Breaking Glass Pictures, The Apostate -- in Spanish with English subtitles and running a mere 80 minutes -- will open in New York City at Anthology Film Archives this Friday, September 9, followed by opening in Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Music Hall on September 30), Chicago, Miami and other cities, with a DVD/VOD release to come on Tuesday, October 25.  

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