My Tender Matador is deals honestly with a story that invites over the top sentiment and storytelling. Taking place in 1980s Chile, the film follows a cross-dresser who falls in love with a guerilla during the Pinochet dictatorship. The “Queen of the Corner” is soon involved in a risky operation that involves hiding secrets of the revolution.
There is a political side to the movie that cannot be ignored. Pinochet’s rule spanned almost two decades. At the time of his death, he was suspected numerous human rights violations. Despite the crimes, this does not mean life would have been better for the Queen if Pinochet’s government was toppled during the time of the movie. My Tender Matador is filled with emotionally packed moments. One of the most powerful ones is a scene in which the Queen states it does not matter who is in charge since she will be seen as scum either way.
It is moments like these that make My Tender Matador so genuine. There are a number of scenes that ring with an honesty that provide the film its many layers. Not merely a tale about politics or being queer, it is about being human. This makes things relatable for all audiences. A transgender person dealing with a society that rails against them, or a heterosexual male that lives in an oppressive political regime will understand what is being conveyed.
Helping matters is the great cinematography. Initially, the Queen is only seen under the cover of darkness. A man living life as a woman in an intolerant world cannot afford to take unnecessary risks. The night offers safety that cannot be found in the daylight. In the moments when the Queen is finally seen during the day, there is a vulnerability that can be seen. Director Rodrigo Sepulveda Urzua almost uses the camera has a way to show the character arc of the character. It is just another way My Tender Matador stands out.
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