First time director Lorenzo Vigas's From Afar is a gritty and cinematic study in desire and repression, set on the mean streets of Caracas, Venezuela
From Afar opens with some gay cruising on the streets of Caracas. Armando (Castro), a middle-age loner, is shown in shallow focus, casually waiting at a bus stop. The depth of field then shifts to the object of his gaze, an athletic blade – and without a word the hunt is on. It’s an opening of pure cinema, telling story through images, and perfectly teeing up its themes. This is a film about the anguish of desire – as the title suggests – held at a remove.
Castro, the ghostly actor known for his work with Pablo Larrain, adds to this alienation; his deadpan visage holds us at an emotional arm's length and keeps us guessing throughout, as From Afar's study of an autumn-spring romance shifts imperceptibly into Hitchcockian thriller. The film does have an emotional kick, though, and it comes from street tough Elder, the young man with whom Armando makes an exception and begins a tentative relationship. His moments of violent outbursts and tender yearning seem to take the actor (impressive newcomer Silva) by surprise as much as the audience. The ending of this intellegent and bracing chamber piece is quietly shattering, and serves as a tantalising calling card for first time director Vigas.