by Douglas Messerli
Akira Kamiki (screenwriter and director) Poente (Afterglow) / 2017 [12 minutes]
It’s a beautiful bright day in São Paulo, but David (Pedro Bosnich) is worried. His severely depressed lover, Allen (Gustavo Haddad) who still lies in bed in the afternoon has stopped going to therapy arguing it never works for long, and has also ceased taking his medications, both without telling him.
Allen insists that he’s going to call his doctor, that they need to talk about this, but David refuses to return to therapy. Even Allen’s kisses cannot convince David.
We can see that Allen is terribly frustrated as he puts his head to the wall. But instead of continuing to argue with David, he explains that he’s not going to try to convince him of anything; he just wants to know what is going on. David assures him that he’s not having a breakdown.
He hands his lover a glass a water and comments, “It was hard getting out of bed today, uh?” He serves up the pasta, watching David slowly eat some of it.
Asking if he’s taken shower today, Allen suggests they take one together, telling him that David’s clothes are all sweaty. David responds, “I don’t mind,” “But I do,” Allen gently counters him. And soon he has his friend in the shower, rubbing his back and his hair as he kisses him from behind.
David says there’s no sun this afternoon, but before long Allen has pulled him out into the balcony, which is bathed in golden light. As they stare together at the dozens of highrises surrounding them—something one is always aware of in that heavily populated city of São Paulo—David leans into Allen as his lover kisses him. The trees sway in the wind, the bell chime rings, and the two finally swing slowly in a hammock as the sun sets over the city.
Brazilian director Akira Kamiki proves what we all know, but keep forgetting, that there is no more successful therapy for depression, no matter how short-lived, than endless patience and love.
Even the audience feels renewed in the afterglow of the men’s deep affection for one another.
Los Angeles, September 18, 2023
Reprinted from World Cinema Review (September 2023).