Acné Film Review - One Boy's Pimples Stand Between Him and His First Kiss

Acné is the story of Rafa (Alejandro Tocar), a good Jewish boy from a good family in a close-knit Jewish community in Montevideo, Uruguay. The middle child of three, Rafa and his siblings are among the many families worldwide who are suffering from the epidemic of the fifty percent divorce rate. He gets to a good school and takes piano lessons. Aside from the adjustment he must make with his parents splitting, the Tween really only lives with one true dilemma: His first kiss.

Rafa (Alejandro Tocar) studies new and hazardous terrain in "Acné"

His big brother conveniently arranged the taking of his virginity; it was a service gently, if not enthusiastically performed by the housekeeper. There after, and thanks in no small part to the Bergman Family’s comfortable finances, Rafa shamelessly frequently the local brothel for more action, while at night he “takes care of things” himself using magazines and fake fur rugs. Still, it is that dreaded first kiss, that more intimate connection with the opposite sex that Rafa is finding to be the most challenge. The girls at the brothel won’t do it. The girls at school play extremely hard to get. Even the lady at the local butcher shop averted Rafa’s kamikaze attempts at a French kiss. And the one girl he wants – the one girl everyone wants – pretty petit, golden haired Nicole (Belén Pouchan) does little to encourage his advances, which he feels, are deeply rooted in true love.

The film is the culmination of all Rafa’s efforts to get that first real kiss to happen. He is constantly writing down tips that he gets from his friend, Rony (Yoel Berovici), who has a girlfriend and seems to have the answers to the mysteries of the female, even those they are the same age. Aside from learning the smooth talk, Rafa is on a full out war against his persistent and demoralizing acne condition. Creams. Prescriptions. Dermatologists. Chapstick. Rafa uses the products diligently in hopes of becoming the coolest, most kissable in school kid.

Acné is a very sweet story and a great debut for first time writer/director Frederico Veiroj. The film takes over the course of a school year, telling this young man’s tale and subtly reminds us all of the growing pains we endured while our bodies rebelled and other was nothing we in our youth and inexperience could do about it. The unhurried, real life pace of the film serves to building the angst level but ultimately is its weakest quality. This film feels like a short which goes on too long, particularly given the authentic, yet nevertheless anti-climactic conclusion. Although the finale was completely appropriate for the tone of the film, it was not especially worth the wait. Nevertheless, this is an honest, coming-of-age story that is enjoyable and universal.

Acné is in Spanish with English subtitles.

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