Lalo Santos, also known as Alo, is a popular sex influencer and pornographic actor whose job is to depict his life as a constant state of arousal. Following his various online accounts gives a glimpse into a sexually charged world, where hardcore scenarios are always on the brink of erupting, potentially involving his loyal followers. However, despite the alluring facade, Argentinian director Manuel Abramovich’s docudrama reveals the darker side of this lifestyle. In the opening scene, Lalo is seen standing alone in a bustling street, surrounded by people but overcome with tears, representing the isolating effects of modern living.
This is a common theme in modern independent queer films where explicit videos are prevalent and emotional connections are hard to come by. It is a popular sub-genre, allowing filmmakers to explore existentialism while also showcasing nudity. This is not exclusive to queer cinema, as straight European arthouse has been using this formula since the 1970s. Although there is no official name for this sub-genre, “pornomelancholia” would be fitting.
However, the contrast between Lalo’s loneliness and the more provocative aspects of his life creates a well-crafted example that is particularly intriguing due to the specific details of Lalo’s world. A significant portion of the movie focuses on the production of a pornographic film based on the Mexican revolution, with scenes alternating between intimate displays of fit bodies and somber conversations among the cast about topics ranging from HIV status to their satisfaction with their jobs, as well as the logistics of creating a pornographic film. Fun fact: not all semen used in these films is real. While this may not appeal to everyone, Pornomelancholia certainly offers a unique character study with an emphasis on sexual content.