Beloved/Friend

Ventura Pons directed this 1999 Spanish feature, a chamber psychodrama about love and desire, friendship and role playing. Jaume (Jose Maria Pou), an AIDS-stricken literature professor recently returned to Barcelona, is eager to unload his troubles on his best friend, Pere, and his favorite student, David, who moonlights as a hustler. The three men, along with Pere's daughter and wife, divulge their secrets and feelings in various one-on-one encounters, and their verbal tug-of-war, meticulously staged by Pons, is touching and intelligent. Especially good are the hulky, melancholy Jaume and Pere's high-strung wife, Fanny (Rosa Maria Sarda); unfortunately, the vacuous David (David Selvas) serves mostly as titillation, which may explain the silly sequence of him donning his bondage gear.

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