Monday, April 15th, 2019

MARILYN: an Argentinean coming-of-age story that doesnt end well


Teenage Marcos (Walter Rodríguez) lives in a remote part of Argentina on his family’s dairy farm with his parents and his elder sibling.  They barely eake out a living to support them all and whilst his mother Olga (Catalina Saavedra) toughened by their daily existence is insistence that Marcos becomes a farm laborer, his father Carlos (Germán de Silva) wants to see him get an education and do something more than tend cattle and make cheese.

Unfortunately the father drops down dead from the mounting stress facing the farm now that there are armed rustlers stealing and killing cattle in the area.  With the mother barely unable to keep the farm going, all talk of Marcos finishing his education is pushed aside.

He takes his only pleasure from secretly dressing up in his mother’s clothes and posing in the mirror in his room.  As she has taught him how to handle a sewing machine he is soon running up an outfit to wear to the local carnival in town one night. Despite the fact he easily passes as a pretty young girl, he still spotted by some local youths who have always taunted him for being so effeminate and call him Marilyn, and this time they follow him home and violently rape him before abandoning him by the roadside.

Struggling home in the early hours of the morning all beaten and bruised but at least changed back into his own clothes, he is confronted by his very angry mother.  She searches his room and grabs up all his female clothing that he has hidden away and throws them all on the fire.  Now keeping a closer eye on him she thinks that will be the end of the matter.

However after another visit from the rustlers the farm’s owners give the family notice to quit and recommend that they apply for a place in a new housing project for working families right in town.  When they go to investigate Marcos finds more than a new house waiting for him but also Fede (Andrew Bargsted) the son of the local convenience store owner who takes an instant shine to him.

With Fede he can finally explore his sexuality and as the two start to bond Marcos is surprised/jealous that Fede’s parents are complete accepting of them as a couple.  When he tries to imitate the scenario and invite Fede back to a meal with his family, it all goes horribly wrong.

This impressive debut feature film from Martín Rodríguez Redondo makes for a powerful new contribution to the impressive stream of Argentinian queer cinema that never fails to delight.  This is based on a very true story which amplifies the devastating effects on how LGBTQ coming-of-age young people can react when they are forced to deal with such institutionalised repression.  It makes the very startling ending seem even more shocking when you know it is not fiction. 

Kudos to Rodriguez for his finely nuanced performance that shows a maturity way beyond his years,  The fact that this is his very first role makes it even more impressive.

Marilyn deserves to be seen by audiences beyond the LGBTQ circuit as it contains a stark message that needs to be shared


Posted by queerguru  at  12:28


Genres:  coming of age, international

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