Review: END OF THE CENTURY Is A Visually Grand But Slow Romance

FIRST IMPRESSION

Though it has a good cast and great visuals, End of the Century doesn't quite explore its themes or characters with enough depth to be totally effective.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

End of the Century, written and directed by Lucio Castro, is a new summer romance film set in the beautiful city of Barcelona. With gorgeous visuals that take full advantage of the movie’s beautiful setting, this film is mostly solid, even if it doesn’t add anything new to the genre in terms of story.

This movie follows two men who, encountering each other on vacation in Barcelona, experience a passionate tryst and make discoveries about themselves and their pasts. Although this is a story we have seen many times before, the film is less about the plot and more about exploring the themes and the characters.

However, the pacing of the movie is where it largely suffers. Much of the film is spent meandering through the conversations and interactions that the two lead characters have together. Although many of them are important and relevant to the topics at hand, some of them feel like they last too long and don’t add particularly much to the movie’s evaluation of its themes. In these parts, the film slows down significantly to the point that you could nearly zone out of what is happening.

However, the movie addresses its themes in a way that is interesting, if not always fully developed. In many ways, the film is an evaluation of how the role of LGBTQ people in society has changed over the years. By watching the differences in the ways in which the characters conduct themselves over the two time periods, we can see how perception of their identity has changed (and also remained static, in some ways) in that twenty year gap.

end of the century beach
Juan Barberini and Ramon Pujol in Lucio Castro’s END OF THE CENTURY. Courtesy of Cinema Guild.

The movie also approaches the idea of fate, and here is where the film begins to falter. Explaining some of the more implausible elements of the story as the result of fate is a bit of a lazy move. Although this seems to be written with the intent of saying something greater about the universe and the way it operates, this message doesn’t come through clearly, instead coming across like it is trying to be insightful even though it doesn’t really know much about what it is addressing, because none of us do.

That said, the characters and the relationship between them is able to keep the movie moving forward. Both Javi and Ocho are interesting characters, particularly once their backstories are being revealed. Juan Barberini and Ramon Pujol have great chemistry together and do an excellent job of leading the film as a duo. It is this which allows the movie to be compelling enough to follow.

The visuals are also great, with some wonderful cinematography taking advantage of the majestic Spanish setting. The camera does a great job of capturing the emotion of the scenes too, owing to the performances of Barberini and Pujol, but you can’t help but feel like this is an extra layer of polish on a hollow story. Something is missing in the script to keep this from being a great film.

There is a lot going for End of the Century, but ultimately the plot is too thin and the themes aren’t explored in a compelling enough way for the movie to be fully effective. That said, great performances and visuals make it worth watching.

End of the Century hits theaters on August 18.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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