Nightlife

A Thousand Clouds Of Peace

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Friday Jul 16, 2004
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Geraldo, a Mexican City teen, looks for love in “A Thousand Clouds of Peace,” Julián Hernández’s artful character study in limited release this week. Somehow, though, the men he seeks it with think he’s looking for money and often end sexual encounters with the exchange of pesos. This only depresses Geraldo even further, making him look like a Bruce Weber subject in search of a photo shoot.

His elegiac journey takes him from one nocturnal encounter to another in cars, cheap hotels, and back alleys. Most of his partners want quick sex; Geraldo wants something more, and thinks he finds it with Bruno, a passionate one-night stand with whom he connects. Bruno, also, feels the spark; but withdraws; sending the boy a letter ending their brief tryst, which Geraldo desperately clutches too as he wanders the streets.

Nothing else really happens in this inert film that often looks like the kind of photo spread you’d see in Out Magazine. Hernández appears to be striving for a kind of poetic realism, telling Geraldo’s story with moody black-and-white imagery (the exquisite cinematography is by Diego Arizmendi.) And he has a great subject in actor Juan Carlos Ortuño, who ably suggests Geraldo’s conflicted nature.

If only he could have given the story a grittier surface; instead Geraldo spends most of the time looking beautifully shell-shocked as he goes from one nocturnal encounter to another. One talks of about the futility of relationships before taking him home; another buggers him without a condom in an alley; while a third bashes him. None of these experiences phase Geraldo, though; who spends the film looking more and more depressed and beautiful. Even after he’s beaten, he looks like there’s a Calvin Klein ad in his future.

Hernández’s wistful concept could use a jolt of the energy seen in such recent Mexican films as “Amores Perros” and “Y tu Mamá También.” His film is more of a cinematic novella on the subject of lovesickness, and, despite its beautiful surface, is slight and indulgent, never fully exploring its subject matter with any sociological or psychological depth. At times it feels too much like a soft-core gay porn film for its own good; and addresses its subject with sentiments that would be right at home in a romance novel. Despite some initial interest, a little of this film, whose full title is “A Thousand Clouds of Peace Fence the Sky, Love; Your Being Loved Will Never End,” goes a long way as it dissolves into a pretentious, if handsome muddle.

Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.

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