Sublime review – refreshingly understated queer coming-of-age tale

Unlike many queer coming-of-age films – which can lapse into sentimental self-flagellation – Argentinian director Mariano Biasin’s light-touch drama handles the thorny process of coming out in refreshing fashion. Friends since childhood, Manu (Martín Miller) and Felipe (Teo Inama Chiabrando) are inseparable during their teenage years. When not playing together in a band, the pair hang out at the beach or simply lounge about in their rooms, talking about everything and nothing.

Though each has a girlfriend, their attitudes to dating are completely different. While Felipe has a van fitted out just for the purpose of hanky-panky, Manu’s first sexual experience leaves him with more questions than answers. Awakened to his desire for Felipe, Manu slips in and out of sexy daydreams as the struggle to hide his true feelings grows increasingly difficult.

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Staying close to their faces, Biasin’s camera captures the easy, infectious chemistry shared by the two leads. Manu and Felipe’s comfortable physical intimacy – even when they are platonic friends – offers an alternative ideal of masculinity that is soft and vulnerable. Whenever a conflict pops up, like the revelation that Manu’s parents are going through a rough patch, Sublime does not dwell on it for dramatic effect. These bumpy events are portrayed as the simple facts of life.

Manu’s confession of love to Felipe is does not feel as though it is demanded by the film’s narrative; it unfolds naturally in an incredibly moving fashion devoid of angst or pity. Though there’s the overuse of lens flare (a frequent tic in contemporary arthouse film-making), Sublime overcomes it to become a heartwarming watch with an unexpectedly sweet ending, and a lot of banging music performances.

• Sublime is released on 6 February on digital platforms.