My Straight Son (2012)
★★★ / ★★★★
Diego (Guillermo García) receives a call from the woman he got pregnant in college that she is heading to London for an opportunity to earn her degree. This means that their fifteen-year-old son, Armando (Ignacio Montes), must come and live with him for a while—a problem because the two have had minimal contact in the past five years. In addition, Armando does not know that his father is a proud gay man with plans of moving in with his partner (Sócrates Serrano) in the near future.
Written and directed by Miguel Ferrari, “Azul y no tan rosa” is an LGBTQ dramatic film with a story worth telling despite its flair for soap opera-like situations and larger-than-life personalities. This is because even though a few of the supporting characters are archetypes, the main characters—the father and the son—are written as real people who make mistakes and are sometimes able to learn from them. We root for the father-son dynamic to reach a similar wavelength not only because the characters are of blood but also since they truly need one another at this point in their lives—at times more than they realize.
I found this Venezuelan film to be refreshingly honest. It is brave in showing a society that does not quite embrace homosexuality. We hear remarks like, “I’d rather my son be a thief than gay” and “I’d rather my son be dead than gay.” While these lines are hurtful and ugly, the script strives to add a layer of complexity by separating the remark from the person by introducing contradictions of what we might think of them when things go bad.
The father-son relationship is moving at times. Diego is far from a perfect father and we see the repercussions of his absence from his son’s life. Armando is very self-conscious about his appearance and we surmise that it might be rooted from the feeling of abandonment he felt as a pre-teen. I found it refreshing that the father giving his son a pep talk is not enough to overcome years of self-doubt.
I expected the script to go on the route of pitying the father because of his circumstance. Instead, he is shown as flawed and I think I was interested in getting to know him more because of it. We meet him as a father who does not know how to be one and we leave him as a father who tries. Sometimes that’s enough.
Hilda Abrahamz is the scene-stealer, riotously funny at times, confidently playing a post-op transgender who loves to perform in public. Delirio del Río is interesting not because she had undergone a sex change but because she is the most confident, most sensible, most normal of them all. Once again this is an example of a contradiction elevating the material.
“Blue and Not So Pink,” also known as “My Straight Son,” gives us a taste of a Venezuelan culture: the good, the bad, and the imperfections. Although the picture does have issues with its pacing—it feels longer than an hour and fifty minutes—its willingness to tell the story in unexpected ways keeps our interest throughout.