The biggest name in the Mexican fashion industry, Evaristo Jiménez (Miguel Rodarte) has built his empire based on his status as Mexico’s biggest gay icon. But everyone has a dirty little secret that eventually threatens their careers. For Evo, it’s the fact that he has slept with 322 women in the last six months. Shifting to damage control, he gets a boyfriend to flaunt around to distract the press from his real sexual orientation. Sandro (Renato López), the new production assistant, is still reeling from the death of his husband three years prior. While everything is just a game of media manipulation for his boss, he starts to develop feelings for him, which causes more friction between the two of them. What Evo can’t explain is how he always feels inspired when Sandy is around, helping him get over the mental block hindering him from creating enough designs for his new collection, up to a point when he himself begins to doubt his very own sexuality.
Perhaps the first question you are going to ask, out of curiosity, is what the real deal is regarding Evaristo’s sexual preference. Is he really gay? Or is he just pretending to be one? The interesting thing is that you can’t really tell even after watching the movie. His flashy demeanor and flamboyance seem to coincide with the traditional criteria defining a homosexual man, but his sexual activities point to the other direction. If a gay guy sleeps with women, is he still gay? No, society will tell you that he must be bisexual. What if he never slept with a man before in his life? Then the world will theorize that maybe he is heterosexual all along. Despite the loopholes, this movie does succeed in bringing forward a social phenomenon causing many of us all this unnecessary trouble: our obsession with labels.
We have come to a point in our existence as a species where everything must have a corresponding tag, terminologies meant to box us in an idea or a concept charged with classifications that have been converted into stereotypes over the course of time. It comes as a detriment because it restricts the individual to the limits of such labels. If you are this, then you should be like that and shouldn’t do this. It’s a normative nightmare that fails to capture the true definition of a person, and thus, results in conflict.
But let’s not hijack this movie review by tossing in a big social issue that deserves its own elevated form of discourse. Macho is not a cinematic phenomenon meant to revolutionize the way the LGBT community is depicted on the big screen. In fact, various feedback has been in unison, critical of how certain stereotypes are perpetuated by the storyline instead of crushed. Clichés are embraced instead of avoided, and there is just that shroud of familiarity making you feel as though you have already seen this particular plot unfold before. Perhaps, that is this film’s biggest pitfall.
The acting is campy, but justifiably so. There are genres that jive well with such acting style. To reimagine Macho with a more subdued acting would probably make it feel more like an indie flick not palatable enough for mainstream audiences to enjoy. In a way, it also serves as some sort of parody of the fashion industry, how everything is made to appear superficial, shallow, and petty.
The movie offers a visually appealing finished product that is just pleasant to the eyes. Take the opening sequence, for instance, where bold white, red, and blue hues are maximized to create an eye-popping scene juxtaposed with a soundtrack straight out of the MTV era. Almost everyone in the cast is also seen dressed to the nines in most of their scenes, given the fashion industry setting. The production design then goes the extra mile by aiming for the same effect with the environment itself, using avant-garde architectural designs that play in harmony with everyone’s outfits.
As for the plot and character development, both are rather all over the place. Evo’s evolution as a character feels contrived, and his motivations are neither clear nor logical most of the time. The film does provide a good temporary distraction for a lazy weekend, but the controversial theme that it tackles will always bring about some complications that might be bad overall. On one hand, it can be viewed as an opportunity to take a solid stand on the issue. On the other hand, the tricky subject matter could also lead to a case of oversimplification, which will not sit well with many. For a better viewing experience, just lower your expectations and enjoy the ride.