End of the Century is defined by ruptures: in sound, in time, in mode. The first 10 minutes or so are dialogue-free as we follow Ocho (Juan Barberini) through Barcelona, the camera unobtrusively panning with him as he checks his phone and crosses roads, in pursuit of his Airbnb. This is a thoroughly contemporary vision of the city: neither beautiful nor grungy, merely a living fact. Our world becomes louder and quieter with each cut, the audio recording kept naturalistic.

Ocho soon hooks up with Javi (Ramón Pujol), who is visiting his parents next door. As this sequence develops the characters’ acquaintance, writer-director Lucio Castro builds up a recognisable (and, compared to a lot of films, positively utopian) presentation of modern gay life: references to marriage, adoption, PrEP, Grindr. Our protagonists drink wine on a rooftop, discussing their lives, in a wonderful unbroken shot, the light changing across Castro’s becalmed frame as we listen carefully – before an abrupt and articulate shift backwards.

Castro’s 1999 occupies an appropriately more old-fashioned queer narrative space. Here a tentative cruise becomes a brief arboreal psychodrama; the thrust of this flashback story itself, meanwhile, follows our characters essentially enacting a knowingly familiar gay self-discovery plot. With tremendous form, and an admirable lack of “major drama”, Castro draws a productive and profound link between past and present, both for his queer characters and an opening world at large.

There are two major moments wherein Castro interrupts the still languor of his film; both possess potent erotic weight. And the mature style rarely feels tiresome; Castro, instead of forcing his characters to “speak frankly about sex” – a stylistic ideal which often traps underdeveloped writers in a disingenuous vortex of self-consciousness – instead separates the physical and the conversational, lending each mode a real surfeit of expressive power. This is lyrical, romantic, anxious.



CAST: Juan Barberini, Ramón Pujol, Mía Maestro

DIRECTOR: Lucio Castro

WRITER: Lucio Castro

SYNOPSIS: Two men meet in Barcelona, and after spending a day together realise that they have already met, 20 years ago.