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“Le Bal des 41”, on Netflix: sad and beautiful gay waltz under the dark skies of Mexico

Through the true story of politician Ignacio de la Torre, a homosexual who aspired to marry the daughter of despotic President Porfirio Díaz, David Pablos elegantly and without pathos portrays a society that tries to escape dictatorship. Between Kubrick and Sofia Coppola.

Mexico, 1901: it's not really the Belle Époque in the land of sombreros ... The Porfiriat (named after its authoritarian president, Porfirio Díaz) is a dictatorship in a silk stocking, whose considerable technical progress masks deprivation of a bloodless and repressed people. In good society, however, we live in high spirits. A prominent parliamentarian, Ignacio de la Torre marries the president's daughter to secure the political destiny he aspires to.

His attraction to men - which he hides as best he can - makes the project particularly perilous: more and more reluctant to fulfill his marital duty, he must temper the annoyance of his lonely companion, who might cost him the favors of the awkward patriarch. His love for Evaristo, which he introduces into the underground gay circle of the "41", may well lead to his demise, while in the country homosexuality is still criminalized ...

Everything in this film "about" taken from a true story could be taxed as illustrative cinema, with wise and eloquent camera movements (fresco-like tracking shots, intensely psychological zooms). But the delicacy with which the director David Pablos restores the elegance of these porcelain interiors - the beauty as colorful as it is subtle -, the vaporous chromos and some bucolic epiphanies, bring the film towards something more singular, between Kubrick (Eyes Wides Shut, in particular) and Sofia Coppola.

Le Bal Des 41
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