Lucas (Paulo Sousa) lives with his religious aunt Lourdes (Juliana Zancanaro) and he helps her run religious meetings with the local ladies. Introverted, Lucas doesn’t have any friends apart from his student Julia (Duda Esteves) who is slowly becoming obsessed with him. Lourdes agrees to house another nephew Mario (Thiago Cazado), who is fresh out of prison and in need of a roof over his head to get back on the right path. At first Lucas is wary of his distant cousin but soon the attraction between the two boys becomes too strong.
Cousins is written, co-directed and stars Thiago Cazado, and it’s a lighter look at what coming-to-terms with your blossoming sexuality can be like. The story is set in the middle of a religious community, which automatically makes its subject matter contentious. Add in that the film is made in Brazil given the current climate there for the LGBT community, and you have all the ingredients needed for conflict and matters of the heart.
Interestingly Cazado and his co-director Mauro Carvalho don’t go down the well-trodden misery and tears route that so many coming-of-age films do. Instead they inject a sense of fun into the proceedings and the whole film has a zippy pace and wide-eyed optimism. There’s a wonderful moment where Lourdes checks on the boys and finds them in bed together asleep. At first it looks like she may have rumbled their secret love affair but instead she writes it off as a special love between cousins.
Mario’s arrival brings Lucas out of his shell and gives him a purpose and enthusiasm for life he was missing before. As Lucas falls for Mario, he has to fight off the advances of Julia who goes to extreme lengths to be constantly around him. That storyline gets a little too far-fetched but the eventual comeuppance that you know she’ll get, is actually worth waiting for. There’s a random detour into witchcraft, which I presume was added for comedic affect, but the film really didn’t need it.
It’s actually pretty refreshing to watch a film like this and end with a smile on your face. While the final moments may leave you feeling that things were tied up all too quickly and conveniently, there’s something quite nice about a gay film that leaves you feeling happy rather than bawling your eyes out.
The chemistry between Cazado and Paulo Sousa is electric. From the moment their two characters meet, you know it’s only a matter of time before their clothes come off and they give in to their desires. The sex scenes are surprisingly lengthy and if titillation is what you’re after than there’s plenty to be found here.
Cousins is a light, fun and entertaining coming-of-age drama with a lot of heart and plenty of laughs. It’s not a perfect film but it breezes by nicely and will leave a smile on your face. As a gay man, I find it refreshing to watch a gay film that isn’t about the struggle and instead just embraces the passion between two boys (even if they are distant cousins!).
Cast: Thiago Cazado, Paulo Sousa, Duda Esteves, Juliana Zancanaro Directors: Mauro Carvalho, Thiago Cazado Writer: Thiago Cazado Certificate: 18 Duration: 83 mins Released by: TLA Releasing Release date: 1st November (US) 9th December (UK) Buy Cousins