140 minutes with almost no dialogue? Yes. And it works exquisitely well. The essence of this (erotic) melodrama is body language: the characters talk with their eyes, with their movements. Unlike several festival movies (in the Forum section) that often go on with long monologues while almost nothing is happening on the screen, this one does the opposite.
Broken Sky (El Cielo Dividido), screened in the Panorama section, is Julian Hernandez’ second feature film (Mexico 2005), after A Thousand Clouds Of Peace (Mil nubes de paz cercan el cielo, amor, jamas acabaras de ser amor) had been screened in Panorama in 2003 and had won the Teddy Award. (At this year’s Berlinale, the award celebrated its impressive 20th anniversary with a retrospective of the best awarded movies, starting with the works of the first awarded directors, Pedro Almodóvar and Gus van Sant.)
The main characters are two (very) young men, Gerardo and Jonas, who fell in love and start a passionate relationship. One night at a disco Jonas is seduced by an attractive guy (Bruno), but does not take off with him. Soon Bruno disappears. Jonas keeps thinking about Bruno and slowly loses sexual interest in Gerardo, while a guy named Sergio constantly keeps trying to seduce Gerardo. Their love passes trough difficult challenges.
Today, gay movies are far from escapism. Most contemporary movies with such topic deal with heavy problems of their characters like death, AIDS, problems with parents, community repression, inability to find love at all etc. — but not this one. This is a beautiful love story that goes on almost untouched by the external circumstances. Its qualities reach far beyond the gay audiences. The camera work is superb, acting is completely convincing and the music is very atmospheric and emotional.
Especially powerful is the use of the aria from the opera “Rusalka” by Anton Dvorak (in a way reminiscent of the best parts of Wong Kar-wai’s 2046) in a scene where two characters feel attracted to each other but still feel reluctant to physical contact. They are afraid of their passion, struggling with their emotions.
The ending may seem strange and not convincing, but in fact the director gives us two endings. The first one is more logical and has a feeling of truth; the other is a more romantic fantasy, a soapy extra twist. You are free to choose the one you like, but the second ending always seems like the real one – the director’s choice. Maybe he should have finished the movie after the first ending, but he says he could not do it. But we can forgive him because he gave us more than enough to enjoy, consistent in his aesthetics from the beginning to the end. This time the movie was not awarded, maybe some other time. I recommend it sincerely.