Tu Me Manques is unlike anything I have ever seen. It is both a memoir and a dramatization of navigating the queer scene for the first time as well as a love letter to those we have lost to suicide. Rodrigo Bellott’s film is hard to describe but very emotionally effective.
Bellott’s film begins with a tense Skype call between Jorge (Oscar Martinez) and Sebastian (Fernando Barbosa). Sebastian thinks that Jorge is merely butting heads with him because of his relationship with Jorge’s son, Gabriel. Both men are from Bolivia where being out of the closet is still very much a taboo, but the phone call ends in tears when Jorge informs Sebastian that Gabriel committed suicide shortly after coming out to his sister. The distance between Jorge and Gabriel is enough for Jorge to travel to New York City to get to know his son’s life even though he doesn’t know if he can handle it.
This is where Bellott’s film really becomes unique. Jorge spends time in Sebastian and Gabriel’s world, but it alternates between that narrative as well as the story of Sebastian mounting a theater performance in honor of the love they had for one another. There are scenes between Gabriel and Sebastian at the beginning of their relationship where Gabriel is played by three different actors but the editing is seamless. There is a lot to unpack in this film about “the right way” to be gay and making sure you learn from your own experiences (Tommy Heleringer is a scene stealer when Sebastian takes Jorge around town), but there is something very mournful about parents realizing their children don’t tell them everything.
Tu Me Manques could have buckled underneath the weight of its own story. Put too much focus on the fragility between Jorge and Gabriel, and it becomes melodramatic. Bellott expertly pulls from each of his storylines to show how sometimes we don’t know a person even if there is a blood bond. We do not remember people in a linear way and sometimes we fear losing the perfect image of someone after they have left us. There is a lot to unpack in this 100 minute film, but I guarantee that you won’t be able to forget its ambition or its passionate pleas.
Tu Me Manques is available to rent and own.