Twentysomething Leo (Martin Rodriguez) has problems with his studies, with his life's directions and with women. But mostly with women. And it's most obvious in the bedroom. However, the thought of trying things with men remains a tentative one at the beginning of Leo's Room.

Thankfully, after the break up of another relationship with a woman, Leo decides to see a psychiatrist. This self-reflection seems to have an effect, and soon Leo starts looking online for guys. And, after an initial awkward meeting with one, Leo has a positive encounter with another - the laidback, confident 26-year-old Seba (Gerardo Begerez). The challenge now is for Leo to fully and openly absorb this new guy into his life.

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We're certainly not lacking in 'coming out' movies. Gay cinema is dominated by them. The occasional reversion to hand-wringing aside, Leo's Room actually comes as a pleasant surprise. It approaches its story in a low-key way. The director allows moments to linger, shots to be held and actors to provide understated performances. It allows the story to be about characters and themes rather than issues.

It's helped by a cute second thread. As a chance encounter, Leo meets an old school friend, Caro (Cecilia Cosero), in the street. He develops a friendship with her, and slowly helps her to work her way through her depression. The subplot helpfully accentuates the film's themes of identity crisis and the slow process of self-discovery.

Following this theme, the key to the film is the journey it makes from its beginning sequence. This scene shows Leo and some friends talking about sex and relationships. One of them says some pretty naive things. Leo clearly disagrees - his body language and evasion deflect the sentiments expressed - but he cannot articulate his thoughts or feelings. But by the end of the film he has found his vocabulary. He just now has to use it, and choose his words carefully.

Although Leo's Room is essentially unoriginal and a genre movie, it does tell its familiar story with freshness. Its almost languid approach to its subject matter and insistence in breaking away from navel-gazing to the grounding of its story in themes of self-discovery, is moving and memorable.

Reviewed on: 18 May 2010
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A chance encounter between two school friends has unexpected implications for their lives.
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Director: Enrique Buchichio

Starring: Martín Rodríguez, Cecilia Cosero, Gerardo Begerez, Mirella Pascual

Year: 2009

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Uruguay


SSFF 2009

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