Hernández eroticizes nude men like no other filmmaker. His camera practically
caresses the actors’ bodies, and viewers who appreciate his distinctive style
of cinema often share the palpable desire his characters feel. His latest film, “I am Happiness on Earth” is not unlike
his earlier film, “Broken Sky,” in that
it tells of a love triangle where much of the communication is done without
When Emiliano (Hugo Catalán), a
filmmaker, is attracted to a dancer, they do a “dance” in which smoldering
glances and a game of hide and seek lead to a seduction. But their relationship
is teasingly presented by Hernández, who seems more interested in the impact it
has on the dancer and on Emiliano’s work. The filmmaker never calls the dancer,
who succumbs to having a threesome with two women. Meanwhile, Emiliano’s latest
film, which interrupts the narrative at the film’s midpoint, features an
explicit threesome involving two men and one woman.
“I am Happiness on Earth” boasts magnificent cinematography and
highly sensual scenes as these two hypnotic storylines play out. If Hernández
teases out a meaning in these two parallel stories, thing get further
complicated when Emiliano hires a male prostitute, Jazen, and their one-night
stand becomes something a bit more. Things come to a head when Emiliano faces a
confrontation of sorts with his lovers. If some viewers will find the slow
burning “I am Happiness” on Earth tedious
and/or inscrutable, the film’s beautiful guys may offer some compensation.
film within a film storyline may be the weakest element in this film, but it is
hard not to feel the emotional power of the various characters expressing and
experiencing longing, betrayal, and heartbreak. Hernández may have a jaundiced
attitude towards love, and an uninhibited view of sex, but his films get under
the viewer’s skin.
“I Am Happiness on Earth” screens tomorrow night, June 21st, at the Castro.