Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Plata Quemada (Burnt Money)

Plata Quemada (2000) isn't your average gay themed movie. It's a passionate and gritty crime thriller that's based on the true story of a high profile Buenos Aires heist in 1965.

El Nene (Leonardo Sbaraglia) and Angel (Eduardo Noriega) meet in a Buenos Aires bathroom, and quickly become inseperable. The lovers earn themselves the nickname, "The Twins".

These boys aren't your average pretty boy, gym bunny gay characters, either. They're thieves, they're rough, they're messed up. Angel is a schizophrenic and deeply religious character who has been haunted by "voices" his entire life. Nene is unfaithful, untrusting, and bisexual. The relationship between the two is exactly what you'd expect. It's gritty, it's violent, but it's incredibly passionate, and it's obvious that they're deeply in love.

The lovers become partners in crime, and with their friend Cuervo (Pablo Echarri) and an assortment of other criminals they lead a botched robbery on an armoured truck. Angel is injured in the heist, and Nene kills all of the guards a fit of rage. Subsequently, the gang flees with the stolen money to nearby Montevideo where they live in hiding.

Angel has stopped having sex with Nene because of the voices he hears and the two hardly speak, but manage to maintain an amazing level of intimacy. We watch their strained relationship boil over, as the trio break curfew and leave their hiding place. Frustrated with this lack of sex in his relationship with Angel, Nene begins an affair with Giselle, a local prostitute. He confides in her that Angel knows him like nobody else, and that he knows what Nene wants, and what he will do even before Nene does. This becomes apparent when Angel begins to suspect that Nene is being unfaithful.

There is talk of Nene and Giselle escaping together, however, when she tries to force Nene to choose between her and Angel, he chooses Angel. Nene threatens to kill Giselle if she turns the gang in, but despite his threats she goes straight to the police and the trio are surrounded before they can take to the road. They attempt to stand and fight, believing that they can still escape, and we watch Angel and Nene rekindle their relationship, sharing a few brief, erotic moments together in happiness.

Cuervo is the first casualty of the seige, and as the lovers wait for the next wave of attacks from the police they soon realise that they have no way to save themselves, or their loot. It's this that leads to the title scene where in one last vibrant outburst, the couple set fire to the money.

Essentially a gay Bonnie and Clyde, Burnt Money still manages to be unique. Their performance is superb, Sbaraglia and Noriega simply ooze sex appeal. For those of us who have a soft spot for bad boys, the sight of these two hunks locked in a passionate kiss while covered in blood, sweat and grease is a delight. And for those of us who like our love stories with a twist, this movie delivers. Possibly it's only flaw (aside from the lack of a rampant and graphic sex scene between these luscious latinos) was that I kept missing the subtitles because I couldn't drag my attention away from Angel's eyes.

I'm not quite sure what was so "intensely erotic" about the movie, as the cover boasted. There were several heterosexual sex scenes throughout the film, but the relationship between Angel and Nene was portrayed as a deeply emotional one, not so much a physical one. "The Twins" shared some intensely intimate moments, notably when Nene pulled a bullet out of Angel's shoulder on the couch, but there was relatively little in the way of inferred sexual intimacy between the two at all, until the final 10 minutes of the movie. And yet, Burnt Money still managed to be incredibly sexy and devastatingly touching.

Definitely one of the best gay themed movies I've ever watched, my only regret is that it's taken me 8 years to see it. Plata Quemada left me with a lump in my throat, and Angel's eyes left me with a raging hardon.

Here are the two fan videos that inspired me to finally buy a copy of this movie. I hope you do the same.


David said...

What a great post. I've just ordered this film on amazon and can't wait to see it though I don't usually go for subtitled films. Great to see your blog back, keep up the good work. Dave.

Simon said...

Great review, hot film.