Teenage is the most challenging yet cherished phase of a person’s life. Family indeed plays an important part in injecting values into a child and making them fit in the world. But during their teenage years, people learn a lot more. This learning is no longer from one family; it is through friends and their families, the community, the teaching, and the type of activity they participate in that they learn each day. In most cases, teenagers are far more complex to deal with, but if the complexity can be dealt with with the utmost care, teenagers grow up to be wonderful human beings. Director Mariano Biasin told us in his film “Sublime” how teenagers struggle with expressing themselves and are sensitive to the magnitude of feelings that rush inside them. The external stimuli push their adrenaline yet give them a taste of anxiety and awkwardness, making them confused as to what to feel and how to express themselves.
“Sublime” is a teenage love story, just not the regular kind we expect. It is the story of two best friends, Manuel and Felipe. The duo had been inseparable since childhood and grew up together. Everything was alright until Manu, aka Manuel, felt he was in love with his best friend, Felipe. He wondered if acknowledging this feeling would damage the bond. The film wonderfully portrayed how the teenage mind works. On the one hand, they are still sensitive and innocent like a child, and on the other, they navigate complex emotional and physical attachments, all of which help them learn who they truly are.
BFF: Best Feelings Forever
The film opens with video footage of a young boy’s birthday. He seems quiet and dull about the birthday celebration. Moments later, his best friend Felipe walks in through the door, and the boy’s happiness knows no bounds. This is a brief portrayal of the closeness between these two boys. They have been practically inseparable and closely stand for one another in every way. Manuel is a shy boy and an introvert by nature. Felipe, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air.
The duo plays in a band, and they want to record their own songs. Felipe is impulsive; he knows Manuel has his back and is, thus, in a way, not afraid to take on new challenges. The duo has a secret van, an abandoned van from Felipe’s father, which they decorated with fairy lights and fancy cushions to bring in their special female partners. We were introduced to Azul, Manuel’s girlfriend and the first girl who came into the van.
Before bringing Azul over to the van, Manuel was concerned that Felipe was unhappy. His concern for Felipe seemed like a bit of overthinking on Manuel’s part, for Felipe seemed to be happy doing something for his best friend. However, every teenager constantly needs to explore things about adult life before their friends. So, there might be a tinge of jealousy, but that was negligible, for he was focused on his music.
Unfortunately, Manuel was not over his thoughts. Although he and Azul had their cozy moments, thoughts of Felipe didn’t leave him.
Dreams And Reality
Manuel had dreams about touching Felipe’s radiant skin. Each day, his dreams brought him a little closer to Felipe physically. In his sleep, Manuel would murmur the word “magic.” His younger sister heard him saying it almost every night. Often, it is believed that dreams take us to a world where we achieve everything that we cannot get our hands on in real life. Manuel was touching Felipe’s bare body in the dream, a little each day, and was beginning to understand his true feelings.
However, the sweeter the dreams were, the saltier the reality was. Manuel could not accept his feelings for Felipe in the beginning. He worried that this change of feelings would ruin the beautiful bond they shared. However, it was unbearable to witness Felipe with anyone else. He had this burning desire to tell Felipe the truth, but a constant fear overpowered the desire. Unable to process his feelings, Manuel broke up with his girlfriend. After his breakup, he finally confessed to his father about his feelings. His father advised him to talk to Felipe. Manuel wasn’t ready, but a part of him wanted to confess. In class, Manuel kept an eye on Felipe and observed his behavior.
Unaware of Manuel’s feelings, Felipe got involved with other girls. Iara was one of the girls Felipe was involved with before he finally found a connection with his girlfriend, whom he decided to take to the van. Like a true friend, Manuel helped Felipe set up the van for him and his girlfriend before Felipe’s birthday. However, the secret lover inside Manuel finally lost control and rebelled. He vandalized the van and jeopardized Felipe’s perfect night.
Manuel was too scared of his actions. He felt guilty for what he did. In the meantime, in his brief fornication with Iara, the girl Felipe was involved with for a short period of time, Manuel confessed his feelings for Felipe. Unable to process his poor actions, Manuel decides to finally come clean with Felipe. He went up to Felipe and admitted vandalizing the van. Felipe was furious and demanded an answer. Manuel confessed his feelings and walked away without waiting for an answer.
Unable to process this alone, Manuel contacted his ex-girlfriend Azul and narrated to her what he had been through. Azul was a wonderful friend; she listened and helped Manuel process his grief. Knowing how passionate Manuel was about music, he asked him to play with his brother. Manuel seemed to finally process his reality.
Felipe and the band were to perform in front of others at Felipe’s birthday party. Manuel wasn’t sure if he should go or abandon the band. Manuel’s father, who built musical instruments, told him that he shouldn’t go if his heart didn’t want to. But Manuel knew that would be cruel to the band, to Felipe, and also to his love for music. He summoned up the courage and, to everyone’s surprise, performed with the band. The band was a huge success that night, and Felipe was happy to find his best friend beside him.
Soon, the band and the four boys were seen playing football on the beach. Felipe apologized for not knowing how Manuel was feeling and for having to go through everything alone. Manuel was scared to confess, wondering if his confession would change everything, but he was relieved and happy to find his best friend right beside him. While playing, Felipe comes up to Manuel and passionately kisses him, and the boys resume playing.
The ending of “Sublime” is heart-melting and wonderful. Knowing there can be a world where sexuality is not defined by gender, and there is acceptance of feelings is bound to make us weep happy tears. The coming-of-age film didn’t label the characters but portrayed them as we imagine and wish they would be portrayed. We are habituated to and horrified by the ruthless portrayal and labeling of people based on their gender and sexuality. This film breaks that wall and delivers us a teenage love story in its purest form.