Screen Gems

Can adolescent love lead to adult desire?

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.

The Reunion: Esteros

Sociologists routinely state that most children have early experiences of sexual exploration with other kids, and that “playing doctor” is actually a normal experience in childhood. Often those experiences happen with other kids of the same sex, though obviously, not all of them grow up to be queer.

On the other hand, if you’re reading this, you probably did.

The Argentine film Esteros uses one of those experiences as its set-up for an adult exploration of friendship and sexuality. Directed by Papu Curotto from a script by Andi Nachon, the movie follows the reunion of two childhood friends, Mati (Ignacio Rogers) and Jero (Esteban Masturini). As kids, they spent summers together and formed a deep emotional bond. They also had a physical experience together, which their parents seemed to acknowledge as healthy.

Flash forward 20 years, and the pair reunite for the first time. Mati has become a successful biologist with a girlfriend, while Jero works as an openly-gay make-up artist. Their chance meeting awakens their childhood bond, though Mati hesitates. Is it because he’s ashamed of their childhood encounter? Or does he feel something deeper for his old friend?

Esteros plays with these questions in the coyest way using the Jero-Mati relationship as a means of exploring memory and life, not to mention sexual fluidity. Tender, quiet, but smoldering with erotic tension, we suggest giving Esteros a watch. What the movie says about the nature of love is just as elusive as it is intriguing.

Streams on Amazon, VUDU, iTunes, YouTube & Tubi.