Words by Joe Holyoake
One thing I gathered from Esteros is that it’s Spanish for estuaries. It wasn’t the only lingo I picked up while watching Matchbox Film’s latest offering. El muchacho means kid. As it happens, both words are pretty central to the plot of this slow-burning Argentinean film, the debut of director Papu Curotto.
The eponymous marshland is where Jeró and Matias used to spend the summers while they were children and its sunny-on-the-surface, but damp and slightly stifling atmosphere matches the relationship between the two main characters. After years of not seeing each other, they meet by chance when Matias’s girlfriend hires the floppy-fringed Jeró to do their make-up for a fancy dress party. Although Matias is slightly awkward in Jeró’s presence to begin with, he keeps looking for more excuses to see him again and is excited when Jero invites him back to the summerhouse again for a weekend. Interspersed with this are flashbacks to their playful childhood, wrestling in the mud and sneaking sips of their parents’ booze, always threatening to spill over into something else.
Their reunion is pretty similar to the third and final section of Moonlight; two characters whose lives have drifted off in different directions, memories of their teenage fumblings strictly unspoken of, but clearly not forgotten. They keep up this platonic pretence for a remarkable amount of time, but it probably isn’t spoiling anything to say the tension gets the better of them and its revisited. It’s a slow and sultry climb to reach this point; all legs grazing while sat on sofas and long, l-i-n-g-e-ring cigarettes.
Both the actors playing the kid and adult versions of Matias and Jeró have a cute, wordless chemistry, which is pretty handy for when your eyes are flickering between the action and the subtitles. Plus, even though it isn’t especially important, the kid and adult actors of the same characters actually look very alike, which is doesn’t happen all too often in films.
If you’re looking for a sweet love story rekindled after years apart, all set in the beautiful Argentinean countryside, then take a deep dive into Esteros.
Esteros is out now on DVD or VOD from matchboxfilms.co.uk