The Last Match (La Partida)
Written and Directed by Antonio Hens
Released May 5, 2013
Review by Stephen O. Murray
September 28, 2015
Although “la partida” in Spanish can mean “the game,” its most common meaning is “departure,” so “match” is a possible translation but “last match” is not. The English title of La Partida, a 2013 Cuban film (actually shot in Puerto Rico) by Spanish director Antonio Hens [Clandestinos, 2007], might more creatively be Un Beso Fatal.
Reinier [Reinier Diáz] is an athlete and hustler who picks up foreign tourists on the Malecón in the Havana harbor. But if the men who employ him try to touch (let alone penetrate) him, he angrily tells them he is not a “maricón” (conventionally subtitled as “fag”). When Reinier awakens dormant homosexual feelings in Yosvani [Milton García], by kissing him on the lips, Yosvani tries to go down on Reinier, who snaps, again, that he is not a maricón!
Yosvani is engaged to Gema [Beatríz Méndez], whose father, black-marketer Silvano [Luis Alberto Garcia], employs Yosvani for her sake, though Silvano does not think Yosvani is tough enough to be an enforcer. Silvano calls Yosvani a maricón even before noticing the feelings his future sun-in-law is developing for the Reinier. Reinier is late in repaying his debt to Silvano, but Yosvani refuses Silvano’s commands to beat Reinier up.
Reinier is on the verge of making in onto a professional soccer team, and he is unable to return Yosvani’s affection. He seems to prefer hanging out with Yosvani to spending time with his wife, Ludmillawife [Jenifer Rodriguez], their baby, and his opportunistic mother-in-law Theresa [Mirta Ibarra] in whose threadbare apartment he lives. Theresa mother is eager to have Reinier get money from a European named Juan [Toni Cantos], from Barcelona, who pays for Reinier’s time in Juan’s hotel bed. She even urges Reinier to marry Juan in Spain where men can marry men. She does not care one bit that Reinier is married to her daughter and is the biological father of her grandchild—this was a chance to move the entire family to Barcelona!
Despite the tragically regressive conclusion of “the game,” this film is worth seeing, an appropriate followup to Hens’s 2007 Spanish thriller, Clandestinos. We see that surviving in Cuba is exceedingly difficult for homosexual men. Inexperienced in same-same relationships, our Yosvani falls in love with the sly Reinier, gets screwed (and then screwed over). He lets a black foreigner screw him to make money to pay off Reinier’s debt to Juan, looking miserable during the interaction. Continuing to deny being a maricón, the never-been-penetrated Reinier regrets Yosvani’s sacrifice—but then, he regrets much of what he does.
End of plot spoiler warning
Both men’s rounded nalgas (buttocks) are on display over the course of the movie. There are fleeting glimpses at some distance and in near darkness of Milton García’s not-small penis.
The DVD has no bonus features.
originally posted on the Out In Jersey website, 28 September 2015
©2015, 2017, Stephen O. Murray