Film note: Gentrification is funny

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Wouldn’t it be great if all gentrification was caused by a murderous, ambiguously gay Adonis?

Chuecatown (Boystown), showing on June 25 as part of the Queer Takes film series at the Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. For tickets ($8) and information, see walkerart.org.


Especially one who pressures old ladies to sell their apartments (or kills them and buys their places from their children), in order to turn a working-class neighborhood into a haven for upscale gays, lesbians, and “modern heteros” (as the lady-killer calls them)? This is the premise for Chuecatown (Boystown), an ebullient farce.

Leo and Rey are a somewhat slovenly thirty-something gay couple in an open relationship, living in Chueca, a crowded (but suspiciously clean) working-class neighborhood of Madrid. Leo teaches at driving school, while Rey does odd jobs for their elderly neighbors for very little or no money, in between sleeping with a number of more successful men—much to Leo’s consternation. Their relationship is suddenly thrown into crisis when Rey’s strong-willed mother, who hates Leo, shows up on their doorstep after she’s thrown out by her daughter for killing the cat in the microwave. (“Where’s the cat?” the daughter asks. “Drying off,” the mother casually replies.) Meanwhile, the murderous real estate developer continues to work his way through the neighborhood, befuddling an adorably neurotic and combative mother-son team of police detectives. Fast-paced hilarity ensues.

The movie is a member of that wonderful species of farce that relies mostly on energettic, witty dialogue and a smattering of physical comedy. The never-ending arguments between Leo and Rey’s mother are fantastic; even the little bits of situational humor poking fun at Spanish homophobia are lovingly crafted. Rey’s mother faults the legalization of same-sex marriage for her son’s lack of support, while the Minister of Culture, speaking at a campaign rally in Chueca, goes on about her many gay friends and how she, “a woman who is not a lesbian,” loves “the gays.” As with any campy movie, of course, the characters are not terribly complex, but the clever script and good acting make for raucous comedic fireworks. If you like farce—and you don’t mind mothers-in-law—Chuecatown will gleefully tumble into your heart.

James Sanna is a freelance writer and an intern at the Daily Planet.

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