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Frameline Review: Julián Hernández's Sexy 'I Am Happiness on Earth' Will Get Under Your Skin

By Gary M. Kramer | /Bent June 20, 2014 at 10:59AM

Julián Hernández eroticizes nude men like no other filmmaker. His camera practically caresses the actors’ bodies, and viewers who appreciate his distinctive style of cinema often share the palpable desire his characters feel. His latest film, I am Happiness on Earth is not unlike his earlier film, Broken Sky, in that it tells of a love triangle where much of the communication is done without dialogue.
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I Am Happiness on Earth

Julián Hernández eroticizes nude men like no other filmmaker. His camera practically caresses the actors'  bodies, and viewers who appreciate his distinctive style of cinema often share the palpable desire his characters feel. His latest film, "I am Happiness on Earth" is not unlike his earlier film, "Broken Sky," in that it tells of a love triangle where much of the communication is done without dialogue. 

When Emiliano (Hugo Catalán), a filmmaker, is attracted to a dancer, they do a “dance” in which smoldering glances and a game of hide and seek lead to a seduction. But their relationship is teasingly presented by Hernández, who seems more interested in the impact it has on the dancer and on Emiliano’s work. The filmmaker never calls the dancer, who succumbs to having a threesome with two women. Meanwhile, Emiliano’s latest film, which interrupts the narrative at the film’s midpoint, features an explicit threesome involving two men and one woman. 

"I am Happiness on Earth" boasts magnificent cinematography and highly sensual scenes as these two hypnotic storylines play out. If Hernández teases out a meaning in these two parallel stories, thing get further complicated when Emiliano hires a male prostitute, Jazen, and their one-night stand becomes something a bit more. Things come to a head when Emiliano faces a confrontation of sorts with his lovers. If some viewers will find the slow burning "I am Happiness" on Earth tedious and/or inscrutable, the film’s beautiful guys may offer some compensation. 

The film within a film storyline may be the weakest element in this film, but it is hard not to feel the emotional power of the various characters expressing and experiencing longing, betrayal, and heartbreak. Hernández may have a jaundiced attitude towards love, and an uninhibited view of sex, but his films get under the viewer’s skin.

"I Am Happiness on Earth" screens tomorrow night, June 21st, at the Castro.