By Eric Henderson

With shades of American indie darling Gus Van Sant and Mexican up-and-comer Julián Hernández, Julio Hernandez Cordon’s new feature I Promise You Anarchy is punch drunk in love with the impetuousness of young love among sexually nebulous skater boys, set against a somewhat harsh and unforgiving urban environment. At a time when it seems fewer and fewer films are willing to submit to the thrill of LGBT themes, instead opting for more politically correct notions of full societal integration, I Promise You Anarchy announces its alternate intentions right there in the title.

The romance at the heart of the movie concerns Miguel (Diego Calva) and Johnny (Eduardo Eliseo Martinez), two boys in Mexico City. Miguel’s family employs Johnny’s mother as a maid, adding the fuel of class consciousness onto their already potent situation. Oh, and Johnny’s also dating a girl named Adri (Shvasti Calderón), which further muddies the waters of their domestic situation.

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Not that it matters altogether because, eventually, their wild nights are matched with wilder days, as they get mixed up in a nefarious criminal plot to “milk” donated blood from some of Miguel and Johnny’s skateboarding associates. Swiftly, the movie takes a turn from My Beautiful Laundrette to Sicario.

If that sounds glib, it’s at least in part a reaction to Anarchy‘s ultimately calculated-feeling genre mash-up. It’s one thing to portray the volatility of the raw LGBT experience against a rough-n-tumble setting in order to form a synthesis of form and content. (This is precisely what Julián Hernández has succeeded in doing in films like A Thousand Clouds of Peace and Broken Sky.) It’s another thing entirely to do what Anarchy does, which is to use prurient gay sexuality to spike an already sensationalistic cocktail.

Nonetheless, far be it from me to argue against any film that potentially expands the parameters of gay cinema, circa 2016. For niche audiences, Anarchy delivers the immediate goods. It boasts sullen, attractive leads (amateurs who were recruited, reportedly, by the director on Facebook), ribald and untamed erogenous tableau, and fitful moments of unpredictable human nature that find a match in the movie’s own wild swings in tone. If it keeps its main characters at arm’s length the whole time, such is the price of giving into electric youth.

I Promise You Anarchy is playing at 9:50 p.m. at St. Anthony Theatre in Minneapolis.


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Other Highlights For Monday, April 11

(credit: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival)

(credit: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival)

Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan) Happy … hour? Try five and a half of them, and none too happy to be honest. This expansive drama follows the lives of four female friends as they navigate their way into middle age-dom with iffy success. Bring a donut pillow. (St. Anthony Main; 6 p.m.)

Here Is Harold (Gunnar Vikene, Norway) Who would’ve figured that Norway — land of the midnight sun — would generate so many off kilter comedies? Must be all those dark hours contemplating the absurdity of life. This film pits a small mom-and-pop furniture against IKEA. (Uptown Theatre; 7 p.m.)

The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, U.S.) Probably one of the highest-profile entries in MSPIFF this year is the latest from director Karyn Kusama, who previously directed Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body and Aeon Flux. Her newest is a horror-thriller about the haunted pasts of exes that blossoms into something far more sinister. (Uptown Theater; 9:15 p.m.)


For the festival schedule, and a complete listing of all the movies being shown, click here. Ticket information is available here.

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Throughout the entirety of the 2016 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, will be spotlighting one notable movie each day, along with other notable screenings. To see’s complete coverage on the MSPIFF, click here.

Eric Henderson