by Douglas Messerli
Roberto Fiesco, Julián Hernández, and Luis Martín Ulloa (writers), Roberto Fiesco (director) David / 2005 [14 minutes]
David is only the third short film I have seen by Mexican filmmaker Roberto Fiesco. But I can already generalize in describing him as one of the most talented of visual artists currently making movies.
David (Jorge Adrián Espíndola), a young schoolboy who is clearly an aficionado of film, has decided to take off the day from school and, still wearing his book pack, moves off the school yard gates a short ways before he observes an older man sitting on a street bench. He walks a little beyond him, but slowly turns back, rubbing the back of his neck as if recognizing something about the man that makes him stop.
We have just observed the same gentleman (Javier Escobar) looking for work only to find the announcement for a job as advertised in the newspaper being removed from a window placard at the location to which he has just shown up. He crosses it off his list with a look of exhaustion and despair.
Gradually, the two play a kind of guessing game between them, asking questions and answering them, sometimes with David responding with touch instead of language. It quickly becomes apparent that this man and boy do share something, and before we can even quite identify what it is, we see them checking into a hotel room, where, soon after, they make intense love.
Later that afternoon we see the two of them lying side by side, José awakening and holding the boy to him again before he gets up, dresses, and leaves. David goes to the window and waves goodbye to José now stands below.
Filming up close in such beautiful tones that you almost want to reach out and touch the screen in order to share the momentary pleasures of their bodies, Fiesco turns what might seem to be ordinary event into a nearly miraculous one. But of course it isn’t an everyday event for a young high school student to pick up with a man out of a job and nearly out of money in order to provide one another with a special few hours that restores both their senses of worth and meaning. David is a treat to the eyes and José, if not a great beauty, is a handsome middle-aged man who might never have imagined himself to be worthy of such a special momentary display of innocent sex. And somehow, given the detail and flow of Fiesco’s camera we feel, even as voyeurs, as if we too had been made privy to something otherwise unimaginable—similar to the way we felt to watch a boy and soldier dance and kiss in a barbershop in the director’s Tremulo of 2015.
These works help you to comprehend just how great cinema can be even in its most fragmentary of manifestations.
Los Angeles, January 30, 2021
Reprinted from My Queer Cinema blog and World Cinema Review (January 2021).