By Jeff Walsh
"Glue" sort of defies every pigeonhole you try and put it into, yet still leads to a rewarding experience. It probably helped that I had no clue what I was putting on, just popped the DVD in and hit play.
The characters fill in pretty quick right from the start. The lead is Lucas, a gangly but cute boy who listens to the Violent Femmes and sings in a band with his hot, hunky friend, Nacho on drums. At this point, my mind starts to assemble what lies ahead... OK, here we go, Lucas is gay, and has a crush on Nacho... but then we meet Andrea, a mousy girl that wears glasses. I try and fit her into my mental version of the movie, that she's sort of Lucas's fag hag, or that she and Lucas both fancy some Nacho, but then why does it seem that Lucas is flirting, too? Who likes who in this thing?
Eventually, I gave up trying to predict things and let the actual movie happen, which is a good thing because the focus and clarity I kept trying to force on the movie never happened. As much as I prattle on about not labeling your sexuality, it was sort of interesting to see it in effect. Lucas and Nacho had a definite physicality between them, at times it seemed homoerotic, other times just familiar. By the movie's end there are a lot of lines and labels crossed, but it's a satisfying journey.
That's sort of the rub of reviewing gay movies, though. On one hand, you want to leave the discovery of what happens to people. But, on the other, if Lucas and Nacho never hooked up in some fashion, then I'd be saying it's a bit of a cheat as a gay movie. Of course, on top of that, the marketing and trailers for these movies usually show some of that footage to get people to see it anyway.
But this movie really swims in the greys. No one comes out, declares their love, indicates the gender of their future sexual partners, it is just about figuring things out when you're a teenager, be it singing in a punk rock band, teasing your hair up into a Mohawk, or making out with your best friend when you get high sniffing glue.
With a pastiche of visual styles and no discernable plot, this could have been a real train wreck. But first-time director Alexis dos Santos captures the whimsy and urgency of teenage exploration, with the backdrop of Patagonia, and makes it all come together beautifully.
Sniff out this DVD if you can, and you'll also get to see an interview with the director and some deleted scenes.