Bolivian filmmaker Rodrigo Bellott’s third feature is probably the saddest coming-out story that we have ever watched. It’s the tale of 20-something-year-old Gabriel (Jose Duran) who settles in NY as he felt he could never be the son that his ultra-religious family in Bolivia expected him to be.
The story starts with the arrival of Jorge (Oscar Martínez) his father who has come to NY after Gabriel had suddenly taken his own life. Totally unaware of his son’s sexuality Jorge’s grief quickly turns into anger once he starts to discover the truth, and most of it is aimed at Sebastian (Fernando Barbosa) who Gabriel had just broken up with recently,
Sebastian had no idea of Gabriel’s passing and even though he had his own grief to deal he with, he somehow took to defuse Jorge’s bitterness because he was mistakenly yearning for his idea of a son not who Gabriel really was. By introducing Jorge to many of the gay men who were an important part of Gabriel’s life, he hoped to be able to show him his son’s true self.
In his lifetime Gabriel had been petrified of discovering the truth of his sexuality, that he had denied it even to himself until he had met Sebastian. His deeply religious mother had maybe suspected it and hinted that her recently diagnosed cancer was God’s way of punishing her because of Gabriel.
It’s a very powerful drama that reiterates the harm created, whether intended or not, when parents enforce their own ideals on their children without any regard to their nature or own feelings. Sadly this all-too-familiar tale will resound loudly with so many LGBTQ people who have suffered similar pressure growing up, and even worse still ends with young gay men and women taking their own lives
Bellot strikes a balance that doesn’t just take the easy way out by making the parents appear purely as the demons of the piece and this helped enormously by the. compelling performances of Martinez and Barbosa as they eventually unit in grief.
Tu Me Manques……which means I Miss You .. started life as a stage play in Bolivia which caused such a stir is actually started a national conversation about anti-discrimination laws and homophobia. With so much interest, it was only natural that Bellot would go on to adapt it into a film.
This is one of those sad stories that make for a totally unmissable movie, but be sure take a very large box of Kleenex with you.
P.S. Tu Me Manques has been selected as Bolivia’s Official Submission for a Best Foreign PIcture Oscar