Elias (Kelner Macêdo) works in a clothes factory where his responsibilities are increasing requiring him to do a lot of overtime. One night he decides to socialise with his co-workers and it opens the door to a hedonistic journey of discovery for the young gay man. As his experiences outside of work start to impact on his day-to-day job, Elias tries to decide what he really wants out of life when he realises that his heart doesn’t lie in his job.
Body Electric is the feature debut for writer/director Marcelo Caetano. In part a coming of age story, the film attempts to push the conventions of LGBT cinema by trying to capture a more realistic portrayal of what it’s like to engage in new experiences while finding your identity as a young gay man. For Elias, he enjoys seeking connections with people however fleeting that may be. He doesn’t see a problem in crossing the line between work colleagues and sexual partners, despite protestations from his boss.
Unfortunately where Body Electric falls down, at least for me any way, is that there isn’t much of a cohesive plot holding the film together. At times the film feels almost dreamlike with a hazy quality of hedonism taking control. This means we see Elias falling in and out of sexual encounters with various people ranging from an older man he’s ended a relationship with through to those he works with at the factory.
For me there wasn’t enough character development here so I didn’t feel invested in Elias. I was profoundly unaffected by what unfolded on screen and by the time the credits rolled I wasn’t entirely sure that I’d cared at all.
Where the film does excel is in its cinematography. The sex scenes are handled respectfully without exploiting the bodies of the actors involved in them. Caetano captures his attractive cast in the best light and there are some wonderfully framed moments, such as Elias emerging from the sea during a time out at the beach.
Understated is a word I’ve seen used lots of times in relation to Body Electric and it’s a good word to describe the movie. I would have preferred there to be a stronger narrative so I felt something towards the characters. Instead Body Electric is like watching a vague dream that doesn’t particularly lead anywhere and you’ll likely forget within hours of having seen it.
Cast: Kelner Macêdo, Lucas Andrade, Welket Bungué, Ronaldo Serruya, Ana Flavia Cavalcanti Director: Marcelo Caetano Writer: Marcelo Caetano Certificate: 15 Duration: 94 mins Released by: Peccadillo Pictures Release date: 16th October 2017