Being dampened is like a TV in a hotel room that you can only turn the volume up so far.
Synopsis from Netflix: “A decade after being separated, childhood friends Matías and Jerónimo reconnect as adults and find that their mutual attraction hasn’t faded.”
There are a few themes that we see in Esteros. One is about living one’s life openly, unafraid – undampened. In this instance, Jero has become the role model in that he is openly gay and accepted who he is. We also consider how internalized homophobia can make people afraid to be themselves, and prevent them from being truly happy.
The film does a nice job of developing the main themes and characters. I like that it flashes back to give context to the friendship that existed between Matias and Jero as children. They spent a lot of time together on Jero’s family farm, and they developed a bond that explains their connection later in life. I found it interesting that Jero’s family seems to have no problem with how close the two friends are, although Matias’s family seems to take issue anytime their son doesn’t appear to be a macho boy.
We really get a sense of Matias’s unhappiness as the film begins. Although he is in a heterosexual relationship, he seems to be unhappy. His girlfriend has also begun to notice that they aren’t making it, and drops hints along the way. The fact that he goes to Jero’s home to drop off the jacket demonstrates that something in him is curious about his friend (and probably more).
I also really like the casual, non-dramatic way in which the story is told. The narrative has its own tension and drama without having any more interjected. It’s like watching life unfold with the benefit of knowing all the history behind what is happening. It’s not rushed, but it’s not slow as it’s constantly unfolding.
The concept of being “dampened” is interesting. Jero refers to Matias as being dampened, and how he is like a hotel television that can only be turned up so far. His friend is afraid of exploring his attraction to men – to Jero – and he’s closed off in many ways. I think this certainly applies to internalized homophobia, as well as not exploring one’s full potential in life. Matias has played it safe, and now he’s wondering what could have been.
In the end – without giving away what might be a predictable but satisfying ending – I wish I knew more about what happened in Matias’ mind between when they left the farm and when he found Jero in the store. I can imagine and certainly it doesn’t need to be spelled out. But still, I wonder.