Despite Missteps, Four Moons Provides Compelling Drama


Watching Sergio Tovar Velarde’s Four Moons can feel like witnessing a young musician performing with an emotional intensity that heavily outweighs her technical skill. The film is earnest and nobly intentioned, though its execution doesn’t measure up.

The narrative comprises four stories of gay males struggling with their individual sexualities, desires, and responsibilities, in a multi-character setup that, thankfully, does not contrive to converge. The strands: A married poet (Alonso Echánove) falls for a male prostitute (Alejandro Belmonte) at the sauna; a gay couple (Alejandro de la Madrid and Antonio Velázquez) become strained by infidelity; two childhood friends (Cesar Ramos and Gustavo Egelhaaf) reconnect at college and begin secretly dating; and a young boy (Gabriel Santoyo) develops feelings for his cousin (Sebastián Rivera).

Characters with secrets often make for compelling drama, and the film smartly gestures toward the connections between having to obscure one’s sexuality as a child and choosing to engage in further obscurantism as an adult. In Velarde’s world, gay men battle between the pain of withholding their true selves from loved ones and the apprehensive fear and shame of making themselves known.

Unfortunately, the film falls short of matching its emotional perspicuity, with woefully underdeveloped sound design (one public environment after another is distractingly quiet) and frame composition that trades in the point-the-camera-straight-at-the-character simplifications of sitcoms. Overlook those distracting formal missteps, however, and you may find a film that engenders resonant empathy.