When Abel (Nelson Rodriguez) meets Diego (Andrew Saenz ) it is literally love at first sight. These two young Latino men living in Chicago instantly bond in what we assume is going to be a gentle romantic story. However one day their world is upturned when Diego suddenly discovers that his mother is dying back home in Mexico, and as he is an undocumented alien he knows the enormous risk he takes if he goes to visit her.
He had kept his legal status a secret from Abel but after a blazing row, Abel decides that he will accompany Diego back to Mexico regardless of the circumstances. Afterall true love knows no barriers. Without giving any spoilers, just know that you will need a big box of kleenex to watch this one.
The movie, evidently based on some true incidents, was written and directed by Tadeo Garcia and using local actors was made in Chicago (and Mexico) and shot on great locations making the city itself one of the film’s stars. ‘A Place To Be’ was already in production at the last Presidential election but naturally, it has now taken on greater relevance giving the current administration’s unbridled hatred of immigration. However what this storyline focuses on is more of the actual effects of the loved ones of undocumented workers, and the devastating consequences on their relationships.
Asides from this main plank of the story, Garcia tries (too hard?) to squeeze in quite a few other issues such as the racism that is creeping into the LGBT community into Boystown and the general alienation of any gay man who isn’t a millennial, which do unnecessary muddy the plot at times. Having said it is balanced by the fact that his two talented leading men have perfect chemistry together and put in compelling and convincing performances.
Whilst the whole topic of having straight actors play gay men on screen continues to still be controversial, it is very interesting that in this movie one of the lovers is gay, and the other straight in real life, and we would defy anyone to work out which is which.
This entertaining and extremely moving drama picked up more than its fair share of Awards when it played the Film Festival circuit and is now available to view on DVD and global streaming platforms.