Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Gay, under-age and semi-closeted in Brazil: Alexandre Moratto's moving debut, SOCRATES


In the very first scene of SOCRATES, the fine, full-length debut from Brazilian-American filmmaker, Alexandre Moratto, our hero, the eponymously named Socrates, is suddenly orphaned. Or so we think. Once we meet his abusive -- physically and religious-wise -- father, later in the film, we realize that orphaned would have been better by far. Moratto (shown below) plunges us immediately and thoroughly into the fraught world of this young man, and though it isn't pleasant, movie-wise at least, it sure is interesting, as well as believable.

As the fifteen-year-old he is, finding work simply to eat and pay rent on the apartment in which he and his mom lived proves a near-constant task, but it is one that Socrates seems more than up to. If only the society around him would help a little. He's a smart, game kid who tries just about everything, quickly pulling us over to his side and keeping us there, despite his occasionally being too hot-headed for his own good.

Moratto never has his movie, nor his hero, beg for sympathy. He doesn't need to, for this is built into the situation and the character. And while the society around Socrates might want to help, times are bad enough already, not to mention the law about hiring minors for work.

Our hero (beautifully played  by Christian Malheiros, above, right, and below) turns to friends, relatives -- close and more distant -- possible employers, a little would-be whoring, and a sudden love-and-sex interest (Tales Ordakji, above, left) first seen in the workplace as an antagonist, who soon becomes a helpmeet. Of a sort, at least.

Along the way, we get good glimpses of the Brazilian workplace, of the country's less-than-impressive housing, and its beachfront playtime, as Socrates keeps trying and trying. Moratto, however, makes certain that his filmmaking is never trying. At only 71 minutes, Socrates moves continuously along at a quick, smart clip.

By the time we and our hero end up at a new seashore with a special task ahead, we've been treated to an impressive little movie that offers as kind and honest a look as possible, TrustMovies believes, at what under-age gay youth must contend with in an increasingly precarious world.

From Cinema Tropical, Socrates opens this Friday, April 9, in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Music Hall 3, and the following Friday, August 16, in New York City at the Cinema Village -- after which it will arrive on DVD via Breaking Glass Pictures and on VOD (via both Breaking Glass and Cinema Tropical) two weeks from today, Tuesday, August 20.

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