A new release from TLA Releasing, “A Skeleton In The Closet” is a brand new Argentinean film about a family sorting though accepting their son Manual after he shocking came out while home over the Christmas break. But Manual is having a tough time himself when his boyfriend suddenly breaks up with him, leaving him feeling even more alone. This beautiful film balances family and personal drama and tests the strength of relationships, especially when there are more secrets within the family: a true closet full of skeletons. But what makes this film enjoyable? Let’s break it down a bit further.
Synopsis of “A Skeleton In The Closet”
“A Skeleton In The Closet” was a bit different regarding the “bad” aspects; most actually aren’t bad – just different and didn’t quite sit well on my first viewing. I admit that I have not seen many Argentinean films, and strongly feel that this altered my perception. So keeping that in mind, the two areas that I felt were weak were the Editing & Cinematographic areas. Some of the camera work was a bit shaky, almost giving off a raw feeling. Tying into this are some very long shots, such as when Manuel is talking with is older brother and their dad enters the room – it’s all one shot, no back and forth editing. Again, these issues aren’t really bad (nor are they really flaws). It’s just a very different style of film-making that forced me to step back and wonder if it was intentional, or an issue to note.
Thankfully there are plenty of other bits that transcend “A Skeleton In The Closet” above the few “flaws”. Right off the bat, there is an incredibly strong story at this film’s heart. Manuel dropped the bomb that he is gay while home over Christmas, and then returned back to school. So we start with quite an uncertain mess of whether his family has accepted him or not – and then his boyfriend dumps him. Yet from this quagmire, we watch Manuel have heartfelt convos with all of his family as they as they sift though it all and test the bonds of family. One of the best scenes is actually between Manual and his father, his father essentially says that he doesn’t care about his son’s sexuality; he only wants his son to be happy. Throw in a side story of Manuel’s brother, the “favoured” son and tennis player and soon-to-be-father (albeit he’s initially unaware!) and there is plenty of conflict and drama to sift through! By the end, the family is actually stronger than before – and Manuel is finally happy with himself. It’s quite a strong script from Writer/Director Nicolás Teté, and he does an excellent job bringing it to life onscreen.
Adding on to the strong and compelling storyline is a cast that successfully creates a believable family, albeit one with a few skeletons in the closet aka family secrets! Facundo Gambandé is incredible as he takes us on emotional journey via Manuel, even though he comes across a bit whiney as the forgotten “other son” at times. But by being unafraid to break down the barriers and by forcing his family to look at things differently, he leads the rest of the family on a journey that brings happiness for everyone in the end. Both María Fernanda Callejón and Diego De Paula are strong in their respective parental roles as Luis and Clara, Manuel’s father and mother. A bit more elitist than their kids, or at least trying to keep the family secrets hidden, they initially come across as a bit cold. But once Manuel finally pushes them to actually talk with him, their love and devotion for their kids is revealed, blossoming by the end into a rather joyous family without secrets. And the rest of the cast fills in their roles adequately and with their own character’s quirkiness.
Despite an initial hesitance to the slow-moving film work, I actually enjoyed “A Skeleton In The Closet”. While the filming style is a bit slower paced and full of long edits, overall the film tells a heartfelt story about acceptance that hits home even today in 2020. So long as you enjoy foreign films with subtitles (unless you can follow along in Spanish!) and don’t mind a slower film that really dives deep into characters and the story, I think you’ll equally enjoy “A Skeleton In The Closet.”