Movies that represent the LGBTQ community have been around for years. Everything from uproarious comedies to disturbing dramas have chronicled the lives of gay men and women. Chief among these are documentaries that examine the struggle of coming out. The things we dare not do is a 2020 documentary that fits in this category.
One of the most well-known aspects of the Mexican culture is the idea of machismo. Things We Dare Not Do follows Nono, a sixteen year old boy. Nono lives in a small village where he has become something of a father figure to the younger children. Following a brutal murder, Nono struggles with a difficult decision that will change everybody’s lives.
Things We Dare Not Do moves at a patient pace. This is not necessarily strange for documentaries. Characters, clues, and motivations are established in order to engage the audience. The difference here, is how director Bruno Santamaria blurs the line between fact and fiction. It is an interesting choice that works well despite having its flaws.
Initially, there is no clear indication this is a documentary. Things We Dare Not Do builds up the setting instead. Many documentaries and movies with a similar theme are set in urban areas. Those that are not located in picturesque settings. It is the exact opposite here. Nono lives in a small village where having running water is a treat. This adds an atmosphere not normally see in similar films.
The direction is beautiful. There is a dreamlike quality to the story. Though life is hard for Nono and his friends and family, there is a tranquility to it all. The pacing may turn some off, however. There is no immediate hook. The camerawork will draw some in, but the glacial speed of the plot will eventually have minds wandering. This is not the effect wanted from a movie dealing with such a powerful theme.
When things do kick into high gear, The Things We Dare Not Do is a much easier watch. While it would be inaccurate to say things move quicker, there is an added layer of tension. Audiences will be engrossed by Noño’s struggle. At this point, it is clear the movie is a completely different take on a familiar premise. The blurring of genres can be disorienting, but the story remains strong and engaging.
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