‘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. Campusano wraps his audience in dark and devastating themes of abuse and control as we enter rural Argentina and the demons of church-orchestrated abuse. Ariel (Wall Javier) lives and works on his father’s farm; here, his life is held in limbo as he navigates the hate, love and abuse of villagers. His father believes he can mould Ariel into a traditional ‘masculine’ figure while the local priest, Omar (Germán Tarantino), abuses Ariel, as he has done ever since the boy was a young altar boy.
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Campusano initially explores Ariel’s sexuality and desire as a figurative prison. However, as Ariel’s self-confidence grows, so does his realisation that the community is toxic and damaged as he takes his destiny in hand and defies those surrounding him. Men of Hard Skin treats its subject matter with a detached and normalised style that some may find difficult to swallow. Here Campusano bravely and boldly explores themes of sex, abuse and control against a backdrop of community acceptance and lies. This delivery style shines a light on the communities acceptance of abuse as a cultural norm. At times this creates a profoundly uncomfortable viewing experience as we witness how religious power and masculine control can breed a culture of abuse that, if not challenged, becomes a part of community culture.
Director:José Celestino Campusano