Retro Review: Mi Mejor Amigo

BY JOHN CARTER JR

This review is based on the Amazon Prime translation of the film

In continuing with the celebration of Hispanic heritage month, let’s take a look at a film about love, care,  and self-acceptance. Released in November of 2018 and directed by Martín Deus, Mi Mejor Amigo (or My Best Friend in English) is an LGBT coming-of-age story set in Argentina. The film follows Lorenzo, Angelo Mutti Spinetta,  and his family as they welcome Caíto, Lautaro Rodriguez, the son of a friend of Lorenzo’s Father, into their lives. The film shows us the journey that Lorenzo and Caíto take together, one of caring, exploration, and loneliness.

At the beginning of the film, viewers quickly meet both of the protagonists. Lorenzo is a bookworm who is confronted with a struggle between what he likes and what he thinks he is supposed to like. This is seen through various scenes in the film. The first time we see the extent of his dissonance is when Lorenzo is in the locker room at school feeling discomfort with the boys around him, and is next seen after spending intimate moments with a friend, who is a girl, after which he walks away looks disappointed and wipes his lips. 

Lorenzo represents this common sequence of discovery found in the stories of many gay people. This is the confrontation between the norm and being different, experimentation, and discovery. He becomes further confronted by his attraction and feelings when Caíto moves in. 

Caíto’s journey is tumultuous, to say the least. While initially under the impression that he was here while his dad was recovering from an accident Lorenzo is surprised by the true circumstances behind Caíto’s stay. According to Caíto, he was required to pay rent for the room he was sharing with his stepbrother, a kickboxer. He tells Lorenzo that his stepbrother beat him up and he admits that in retaliation he beat him up with an iron rod. Lorenzo is shocked to hear this and Caíto tells Lorenzo that he told him to be honest. While he is surprised by this at first Lorenzo recognizes the beginning of doubt in Caíto’s voice and reassures him that he appreciates his honesty. Lorenzo promises to keep his secret.

Lorenzo’s loneliness is what drives his actions and seems to be what the film is about. This can be seen at first with his experimentation with girls, his interactions with friends of both genders, and his first interactions with Caíto. He goes on to tell Caíto about his feelings only to be called a pejorative. Throughout the film, we see this sort of inching closer together between the two. Lorenzo attempts to take care of Caíto, while Lorenzo’s loneliness is quelled. It quickly develops into more than that however. The pair become a mutually beneficial relationship that transforms into a friendship and then something more. Lorenzo helps Caíto stay consistent with his job, they celebrate Caíto’s birthday together, and go camping together. The last of these activities is where we see all of these interactions build up.

Caíto and Lorenzo fight during their time on the camping trip. Eventually they forgive each other and decide to stay another night on the camping trip, this leads the boys to smoke and for Lorenzo to be more open, he tells Caíto to close his eyes. He does and Lorenzo kisses him on the cheek to which Caíto tells his new friend that he loves him. Lorenzo himself closes his eyes and Caíto looks at him. Eventually, we find out that the stepbrother dies and Caíto feels the urge to run away leaving Lorenzo devastated. Caíto leaves Lorenzo with a hug and the latter spends the last moments of the film lost and alone.

Mi Mejor Amigo is about two individuals who became very close in a short span of time. Lorenzo and Caíto go from being awkward around each other, to a caring relationship (especially for Lorenzo), to a friendship, to something more than that. However to Lorenzo’s dismay and due to the circumstances of Caíto’s situation they can’t explore that.  These circumstances devastate Lorenzo and again, like many parallels with real gay people, leave him alone. What Lorenzo gained from the journey was a clearer understanding of what he was and where his accepting parents stood, but what he lost was someone he could call his best friend at the very least.

Mi Mejor Amigo was a film that greatly parallels the experiences of certain LGBT people and their journey of self-acceptance. It does this in the context of a Latino family which is not often seen in the media. It offers a portrayal of what a person will do to ease loneliness and how that humble intent can lead to more intense feelings and devastating disappointment. It was a truly beautiful and intimate journey.  It presents a conundrum people deal with all the time, falling for your best friend and what it’s like to lose them.

I give Mi Mejor Amigo an 8/10 for its intimate portrayal of an LGBT protagonist, its beautiful shots, and the potential in its actors

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