Review: Argentinian Gay-Themed Drama ‘A Skeleton in the Closet’ ★★★★

A Skeleton in the Closet from writer-director Nicolás Teté makes it onto DVD on the 8th of February from TLA Releasing. The project delves into the post-break-up limbo of a young twenty-something as he addresses his fractured relationships with his family and wounds of the past. Packed with a rich depth of character channelled through an impeccable lead performance from Facundo Gambandé, A Skeleton in the Closet is a sensitive, intimate drama about acceptance and the mark we leave on those around us.

Returning home to ask his parents for money to prepare for a move to Denmark with his boyfriend, Manuel’s (Gambandé) world is rocked when said boyfriend dumps him over a video call. Forced to extend his trip to his small Argentinian hometown slightly longer, Manuel is faced with the task of mending relations with his family whom he experienced a rough coming out with. Flooded by memories of the past, Manuel also begins a romantic relationship with a former-teacher in an attempt to fill the void of the lost romance from his fresh break-up.

A Skeleton in the Closet does not so much as deal with the coming out process, but the aftermath of the initial coming out. What makes director Nicolás Teté’s film so interesting as it deals with the aftermath of the coming out process after a significant time gap between the actual coming out. Manuel dropped the bombshell a year or so prior and has since not been in contact with his parents and subsequently not had the chance to discuss, share, and explain his emotions. Interestingly Manuel’s parents are not homophobic or overtly-dramatic in their response, still loving their son, but the film navigates that middle ground of still loving their son with their somewhat discreet discomfort about his sexuality and their failure to fully understand this. This is captured wonderfully in scenes with Manuel desperate to discuss his emotions with his father who promptly changes the subject, comes up with excuses or fails to respond in a substantial manner.

Emotions are heighted by Manuel’s break-up with A Skeleton in the Closet crafting an intriguing sense of narrative limbo where Manuel calculates his next move whilst navigating the territory of his youth and coming of age. Progress and the past literally coming head-on. The comfort of this familiarity and the aching heartbreak he faces sees Manuel fall into a brief relationship with a former teacher – the discomfort of this being masked by the central character’s clouded sense of judgement and broken emotions. Gay-themed features can occasionally feel like vessels for titillation and graphic sex, however, A Skeleton in the Closet opts for a deeper sense of character development, not relying on its few and far between sex scenes to do so. Manuel’s relationship with this teacher in some senses captures his progress and moving on from his previously relationship, whilst in another sense showcase his struggles to fully move on from his queer experience and coming out in his hometown.

There is plenty of food for thought in Nicolás Teté’s narrative – from homophobic reactions from wider family members to being the ‘gay sibling’ facing comparisons with straight brothers and sisters. This latter angle is one of the most endearing narrative elements with the kinship and rivalry between Manuel and his siblings providing moments of humour and heartfelt emotion. Manuel’s sister is navigating the world of boys, sex and coming of age – excited by the prospect of hearing about her older brother’s experiences. Manuel’s brother is carrying the reputation as the perfect “normal” son with the weight of family name and reputation on his shoulders. Yet whilst there are differences between the siblings, the quiet bond, progress and broadening of horizons behind the family at the heart of the film delivers a wonderful emotional depth and delightful sense of conviction.

Much praise should go to Facundo Gambandé who carries most of the emotional weight of the film, whilst Nicolás Teté’s intimate and observant direction ensures that A Skeleton in the Closet feels authentic and quietly uplifting.

A Skeleton in the Closet is available from February 8th. You can pre-order the DVD here.

Watch the trailer for the feature below.