Dealing in heavy issues can some times get a artist into trouble or it can present to the world something new and intriguing. Without the right combination of story and performance, you’re susceptible to crafting something truly pretentious or preachy. However, when all of the cards are laid out in the correct pattern – the final project may not be something that every one will be able to appreciate; but it should prove to be something interesting. Broken Glass is an example of the project that gets everything right during the production. Dealing with topics such as repressed homosexuality and the denial of love in confrontation to adversity, mixed with a psychological twist, it keeps its head out of the clouds by focusing equally on the characters as much as the themes and the issues. Although certainly not a film without its own share of issues, Broken Glass has its moments of sheer stunning power.
Our story deals with Valentina, a beautiful artist who has had her life dictated by her overbearing parents who have denied her love throughout her life. As a teenager she was caught with her female lover, but when discovered by her parents she was given the ultimatum to choose between following this lifestyle or being cut off financially and emotionally, or going with the norms and denyin her own inner feelings. She ultimately followed in the path of safety and settled down with a man, but after discovering him with another man – her feelings come crashing back to her and she creates a male alter-ego within herself to deal with her own sexuality. Val is in shambles but with the help of a wine that has been passed along through her family for lifespans – she may have a second chance at happiness and sanity.
Gustavo Camelot, who stars as well as directs, leads his troupe of actors through some uncomfortable waters as the movie delivers a grand scope of the emotional scale. The cast are a mix of varying degrees of experience, but all put in universally strong performances throughout as the story delivers some truly harrowing moments on an emotional level. Taking place in Europe, between Paris and Berlin, the mix of languages that the actors had to use must have been as disorienting for the cast as it is on the viewer. The mix of languages, subtitled scenes and those spoken in English, confounds you as a viewer and challenges you to engage with the film or be lost forever. This is an aspect of the film that I really loved, as nothing in Broken Glass is sugar coated. The filmmakers have expectations from their audience and don’t stop for exposition. When we first discover that Val is being played by two different actors (Gustavo Camelot when she is presented as a male and Mariela Santos as the female), it is through visual clues and leads. There is no explanation to the audience during the first half of the film that, hey, this girl has a split personality. It is placed upon the audience to figure it out for themselves.
Although shot on digital photography and lacking in a ‘film’ sheen, the visual quality of the film is compelling and surreal. The mix of flashbacks and current reality, each with their own picture quality, gives the film such a larger scope. An Avant Garde project that takes on the process of something epic, I won’t say it’s a masterpiece but I will say it certainly has its moments. The inclusion of such bold sexuality is certainly a part of the film’s power over its audience. Although it certainly isn’t exploitative or excessive, the male frontal nudity and tackling of such weighty issues dealing with sex makes it a rewarding experience. Although, I did of course have certain issues with it although nothing really solid. The underlying idea that is played throughout, about Valentina’s grandfather making several bottles of magical wine that will come back to affect her in life, didn’t work for me as a viewer. The ultimate reason being that the rest of the film seems so rooted in emotional and human involvement, that this trip into the supernatural simply didn’t seem real.
Regardless of this, Broken Glass proves to be an impressive piece and showcases an interesting filmmaker who proves to have a lot of talent. I am definitely interested in seeing more of Gustavo Camelot’s work in the near future. If you would like to read up more on this project, you can visit the official website at: