Burnt Money

Ladymol's Review

This is an amazing, wonderful film that comes very close to this perfect, elusive gay movie that I’m seeking. Give me the plot to tweak a little and it would have!

Angel and Nene are The Twins—assassins, bank robbers, violent criminals. They aren’t really twins: they’re gay. Always together, they’ve almost grown to look like one another.

Hired for a robbery of millions of dollars, they end up holed up in an apartment keeping a low profile from the police. Tempers flare—between them and the other men in the gang. Angel hears voices, something Nene has always known and is cool about, until the voices tell Angel that he’s a fag, evil, perverted, and that his sperm must be preserved not… spilt. The tension between them is quite unbearable. They are all touch and looks that split your heart in two. Nene is driven to desperate lengths when Angel keeps rejecting him, and the tension just notches up and up.

The net closes in around them, but they are already spiralling down in their own world of bitter recriminations. Ironically the salvation of their relationship comes about through great loss.

There is no full nudity in this movie, and the only sex scene is het. However, this is one of the most stunningly visual gay movies I’ve seen—it relishes the male form: sweat, blood, muscle. It proves the adage that less is more. The passion between Nene and Angel pulses off the screen.

The film is all in Spanish, narrated in places. You’d think this would be off-putting. Not so. For the first time in a long while I’ve watched a movie that is sure where it’s going and what it wants to say. The narrator puts things into context in a utterly hypnotic Spanish voice. You can concentrate on the looks and the touches and the sweat (have I mentioned the sweat and muscles already?), without having to worry about the big picture. It’s brave and very, very refreshing.

Do give this movie ago. I highly recommend it.


Cerisaye's Review

This is an intense and powerfully erotic film that I can’t get out of my head.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected, a homoerotic Bonnie & Clyde, though there are similarities, also with Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.  It’s a searing love story in which the central pair never have onscreen sex.  Yet their tormented relationship is one of the most memorable I’ve encountered. 

Though ostensibly about a robbery that goes wrong, the film is a character study focused on a trio- El Nene, Angel and Cuervo, labelled by the press ‘Chaos, Destruction and Death’.  The bulk of the story takes place in Montevideo, where the gang hideout until passports can be produced for their escape.  They have the money but they’re to lie low, keep quiet and not venture outside.  The tension is palpable in the claustrophobic apartment where they hole up.  Inevitably they implode.

It is incredibly violent, with explicit hetero sex scenes.  Angel gets shot during the robbery.  Nene removes the bullet, while his lover screams and cries in agony.  It’s excruciating, yet at the same time tender, Nene’s love revealed in every whisper and reassuring touch.  Which is important to the story because by this point we know there’s something badly wrong between them. 

Ever since they met, in a sleazy station toilet, Nene and Angel have been inseparable.  Nene took Angel home because he had no money and nowhere to go.  They’ve slept together every night since. Bonded so close they’re known as the Twins. Angel exercises while Nene sleeps, then crawls into bed, his longing so strong you feel it.  He hears voices in his head and won’t allow Nene to touch him anymore, let alone make love to him.   Nene uses checking his wound as an excuse for physical contact Angel denies.

Angel’s need to protect Nene overrides desire.  He is afraid, maybe paranoid, or possibly psychotic.  Nene is conflicted about his sexuality.  Filled with gay self-loathing, externalised in one disturbing scene in a toilet, intercut with scenes of Angel in church, both on their knees.  Angel thinks Nene is infected with the miasma of hate that affects Buenos Aires.  He dreams of taking Nene away to New York, to cure him.  He carries a pocket dictionary from which he recites English words, a mantra to make the wish come true.  Angel is superstitious, fears retribution.  So, no sex, then Nene will be safe. 

Angel, teetering on the edge, doesn’t tell Nene what’s going on in his head , and he’s driven by lust into the arms of a prostitute.  They have hard sex, but she’s the conduit for his true desire.  Intercuts show Angel battling his body’s need for Nene.  This is gay love shown with rare power and passion, tried and tested in ways that made me weep for them both. 

The film, based on a true story from 1965, looks moodily magnificent. Colours muted and muddied.  There’s an authentic 60s feel, with gangsters in sharp suits, crisp white shirts & ties.  All 3 lead actors are excellent, but Eduardo Noriega as Angel is luminous- heartachingly beautiful.  His chemistry with Leonardo Sbaraglia (Nene) smokes.  Their unspoken love never in question.  Maybe it’s too subtle for those who expect gay movie=raunch.  I confess I’ve never been so desperate for two men to hug.  Details reveal affection and intimacy.  For me this was the film equivalent of As Meat Loves Salt, suffused with burning erotic intensity.  There’s more raw power in a smouldering glance, a sensual brush of fingers, than a nude scene.  Angel and Nene are like Jacob and Ferris, soulmates struggling with demons, within and without, dealing with shame and confusion. 

The explosive climax is inevitable.  Some of the most moving images I’ve ever seen show the true meaning of love: caring about someone more than yourself, passion and emotion so strong nothing between heaven and earth can separate them.   A final act of defiance is a blow against repression that damages the psyche by denying male love.  I think this is my ultimate gay movie.  Please don’t miss it.


Buy Burnt Money (REGION 1) (NTSC) from Amazon here