By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2004; Page WE37
Julian Hernandez's mournful dirge for a young gay man stuck on an unrequited love in the Mexican slums is a beautifully photographed banality. It's a movie that pretends to be about something but, in the end, is merely about cinematographer Diego Arizmendi's images and camera gyrations and some homoerotic notion in Hernandez's head that doesn't convey much more than one-note loneliness.
Gerardo (an almost catatonic Juan Carlos Ortuno) is heartbroken over a man who loved and left him. He spends his time, and frankly ours, hanging around in lonely places where other men meet for passionate transactions and in the pool hall where he works (but doesn't seem to do a whole lot for his money). Bruno's heel-cooling is interspersed with flashbacks and voice-over readings of a letter that was left for him (presumably by Bruno, the man who dumped him).
There is a sniff of Robert Bresson's old black-and-white movies of religious suffering. But "Clouds" lacks Bresson's exquisite and torturous depth. It's as pretentious and wispy as its title.
A THOUSAND CLOUDS OF PEACE (Unrated, 83 minutes) -- Contains nudity, sexual scenes, some violence and obscenity. In Spanish with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company