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CANDY OR MINT (Caluga o Menta)

Chile / 1990 / 100 min / Spanish / Drama
Director: Gonzalo Justiniano
Cast: Hector Vega Mauricio, Aldo Parodi, Patricia Rivadeneira
The Skinny: Chilean Vagrants Turn To The Dark Side
Plato Score: B

Plato Says:

Candy and Mint is frequently billed as the first Chilean film with a gay character. That’s like saying Titanic was a movie about Irish dancing.  Sure, there’s a gay sex moment but let’s not break out the rainbow flags just yet.

Niki and Nacho are two friends, hanging with their down-and-out crew on the outskirts of Santiago. The two of them steal, loaf around, get drunk—when Niki has some downtime from abusing his girlfriend, that is.  The pair eventually get involved in bigger drug-hustling ring, but as usual: mo dinero, mo problems.

So the scene in question comes when the two are hard up for some money and Nacho visits a ‘friend’ for help. Nacho apparently turns male tricks when the going gets tough yet he doesn’t show interest in men at any other time. It’s unclear if the scene is supposed to give their life some darker, more desperate ‘edge’ and Niki doesn’t bat an eyelash to Nacho’s homo-philandering anyhow.

So whether Nacho is gay-for-pay or bi is left for the viewer to parse out. However, [YAWNING SPOILER] Nacho does get killed in the end—so maybe he is a gay character after all.

One must seriously question director Justiniano’s gay credentials as Nacho is about as attractive a prostitute as watching Gollum turn tricks. Still, the movie is interesting to watch: good camera work and some unique desert scenes at the end. There could be way worse first gay characters to have for your national cinema.

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