End of the Century
Two men meet in Barcelona, have sex, eat, chat, and then start to wonder if they've met before in this beguiling debut feature from Argentine director Lucio Castro, which feels like all three parts of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy rolled into one
Memories of young love and regret intertwine in this brilliantly bittersweet debut from writer-director Lucio Castro. Initially, End of the Century presents as a pleasant Spanish knockoff of Andrew Haigh’s Weekend. Two men – Ocho (Barberini), a writer based in New York, and Javi (Pujol), a director based in Berlin – begin a sweet, passionate romance under a tight time constraint while both visiting Barcelona. Castro, however, has some magic up his sleeve that takes the film somewhere extraordinary.
It turns out these men have met before, around 20 years ago near the end of the last century, an unenlightened time for gay men still in the closet, as Ocho and Javi were back then, long before hookup app Grindr and HIV prophylactic PrEP. The film then cuts to 1999, and we find Ocho and Javi still played by the same actors, with no attempt made to make them look any younger. Is this a flashback? Are we inside one of the men’s memories? Details that echo in both timeframes – a book, a song, a Kiss t-shirt – take the film into the world of magic realism, while a third chapter presenting an alternative present is almost cosmic, suggesting we all have parallel lives belonging to choices not made.
End of the Century has been sharply described as Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy compressed into one movie, and the film’s three acts have the cumulative emotional power that description suggests. A deceptively simple film brimming over with poetry and melancholy.