Don’t Tell Anyone (1998)

 “Imagine you’re aiming at baby Jesus.”

dont-tell anyoneIn the Peruvian film, Don’t Tell Anyone Joaquin Camino (Santiago Magill) doesn’t exactly fit his father’s notions of masculinity, so his father drags the teenager off on a day trip designed to bring out his son’s inner brute. It’s a sad commentary that being a man is supposed to be about shooting, killing and brutalizing, but that’s exactly what Joaquin’s dad thinks. The trip is a disaster–Joaquin is paired off with a handyman’s Indian son, and while they’re supposed to be hunting, Joaquin’s advances towards the other man are rebuffed in horror. But all this escapes the notice of Joaquin’s father; they return to the city, and in his father’s eyes at least, Joaquin’s day somehow serves as a rite of passage into manhood.

Joaquin then goes to university where he meets fellow student Alejandra (Lucia Jimenez). While Joaquin’s religious, protective mother is delighted to see her son involved with a girl from a good family, the relationship is fraught with problems. He meets Gonzalo (Christian Meier), the fiance of Alejandra’s best friend, and they begin a secret relationship. Gonzalo argues that he loves his fiancee and intends to get married, and he seems to find it perfectly normal to live this double life with Joaquin on the side.

Joaquin tries to come to terms with Peruvian society’s attitude towards homosexuality. His male friends accept these secret relationships between males that are coupled with marriage to acceptable, desirable woman and also contrasted to violent, public homophobia. Joaquin, unable to juggle all these opposing moralities, finally leaves Peru and dives into Miami’s seamy side.

The film addresses many of the hypocrisies associated with Peruvian society’s attitude towards homosexuality, and also ties in this attitude with prevalent racist attitudes towards the Indian population. However, Joaquin is not a particularly sympathetic character, and ultimately the film’s conclusion seems ambiguous. From director Francisco J. Lombardi, the film Don’t Tell Anyone is in Spanish with English subtitles.

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