‘Hombres de piel dura’
Men of Hard Skin is now available on DVD.
Argentinean director Jose Celestino Campusano brings us a coming of age tale with an added bite in his latest feature, Men of Hard Skin. Here Campusano wraps his audience in dark and devasting themes of abuse, church, religion and acceptance as we are taken into the rural world of Argentina and demons of church orchestrated abuse. Ariel (Wall Javier) lives and works on his father’s farm, his life held in limbo as he navigates the hate, love and abuse of villagers. Here we have a father who believes he can mould Ariel into a traditional ‘masculine’ figure. At the same time, the local priest, Omar (Germán Tarantino), continues his sexual liaisons with Ariel, born from his role as an altar boy.
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Campusano cleverly explores Ariel’s sexuality and desire as a prison of control as the priest and the community demand public heterosexuality while engaging in abuse. However as Ariel’s self-confidence grows, so does his realisation the community is toxic and damaged as he takes his destiny in hand and defies all those surrounding him. Men of Hard Skin treats its subject matter in a detached and normalised manner, creating an aesthetic that may throw some viewers off-balance as sex, abuse and control are portrayed directly.
However, this delivery style shines a light on the community legitimation of abuse while equally demonstrating how the exploitation of both men and women can thrive when given religious legitimation. At times this creates a profoundly uncomfortable viewing experience as we witness the acceptance of power and control for convenience. However, the result is a daring narrative that seeks to uncover the truth behind abuse and exploitation and the role of communities in legitimising those who hold power.
Director:José Celestino Campusano