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MY TENDER MATADOR (2020, CHILE) Movie review, plot, trailer, rating

Santiago, the capital of Chile in the mid-1980s, was not exactly a place to be desired. Although the rule of the local dictator Pinochet was slowly coming to an end, Chile was still a police state in which it was very easy to lose one’s head or go to prison, but in the introductory scene of the film based on the novel of the same name by Pedro Lemebel. written and directed by the experienced Rodrigo Sepulveda, we will see here another side of Chile of that time. And literally already in the introductory scene that takes place in a kind of transvestite club where mostly already aged transvestites gather who really look grotesque and caricatured. But the police soon break into their favorite gathering place, disperse them, and while they are fleeing the streets in high heels, a mysterious young man will protect one of them.

This guy is the local Drag Queen who calls himself La Loca del Frente or the Queen of Corners (famous Chilean actor Alfredo Castro in a significantly different edition compared to previous films), a completely silly guy of some sixty years who no one takes seriously. The guy who will protect him will turn out to be a young guerrilla from the Chilean Marxist revolutionary organization that plans to assassinate Pinochet, and La Loca’s house will seem to him an ideal hiding place for his organization’s revolutionary activities. At first glance, one might think that with such a balance of power, “My Tender Matador” or “Tengo Miedo Torero” would embark on a bizarre comedy, but Sepulveda filmed a complex drama because quite unexpectedly a relationship will develop between the two characters and something above friendly.

And otherwise the great Castro here is as masterful as that almost stereotypical old transvestite, a naive person who will initially hope that a mysterious young man comes to him because he wants to have something more with him. But we will soon realize that he is not as silly and naive as he often likes to portray and it will become clear to him what is going on. However, by then it will be too late and the old transvestite (who earns money by sewing some tapestries for the wives of members of the military junta in power while his other source of income is prostitution in front of a porn cinema) will become completely obsessed with Carlos. But, don’t worry, this is not a comedy of confusion, because Carlos is fully aware of what he is doing, and it seems that in time he will feel more and more free in the Queen’s company.

The greatest value of this quality drama is in the subtlety (as incredible as it sounds in combination with the grotesque appearance of the main character), but also in the sincerity of the whole story in which the viewer can easily believe and understand both protagonists. The character of the Queen is truly masterfully designed and while initially acting as a grotesque circus performer, over time we will begin to better understand him and understand his life story. It is not difficult to conclude that this is an unfortunate man who spent a good part of his life in solitude, despised, undesirable, rejected, and although the story is set during a dictatorship, he is not interested in politics at all. He is aware that he and those like him will be a minority and marginal in all regimes and he does not want to get involved and expose himself to additional dangers, but even if he does not plan, it will happen to him.

Unlike many films that have been coming from Chile in recent years and concern the Pinochet regime, this is not in the foreground. This dictatorship served as the perfect backdrop for the unusual story of a man who was crammed into a drawer as soon as they saw him somewhere on the road, but Castro masterfully managed to make the Queen a figure of blood and flesh, a real person who will enjoy the attention of a much younger man. although he is aware from the beginning that he has some other motives than his own. Lemembel and Sepulveda have long planned to screen this famous Chilean novel, but Lemembel failed to live to see that moment since he died of cancer in 2015. According to his wishes, the main role belonged to Castro, and the premiere of this complex drama took place at the Venice Film Festival. Rating 7/10.


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