Jan 8, 2020

Painful and authentic, a world-class depiction of suppression and injustice to a newly- gay man in a heterosexual marriage.


Grade: A-

Director: Jayro Bustamante (Ixcanul)

Screenplay: Bustamante

Cast: Juan Pablo Olyslager (La Llorona), Diane Bathen

Rating: NR

Runtime: 1h 47 m

By: John DeSando

Guatemala City is much like other prominent cities in South America: rich in diversity and burgeoning business. In the matter of gay men, writer/director Jayro Bustamante’s Tremors depicts an Antigua state of mind: a family man who professes love for another man is in a world of hurt for his family and himself. Nothing is in the least progressive.

Such a narrow but not uncommon reaction by a local culture as offers a candid representation of the troubles gays can experience in a heavily Catholic and conservative small world. So authentic are the reactions, the film could have just as well have been about the effects of divorce on a community.

Pablo (Juan Pablo Olyslauer) comes home to a phalanx of family ready to condemn his choice of male love over his current heterosexual family life. Olyslauer’s underplayed performance makes Pablo an audience-identifier of a person coming to terms with prejudice couched in family values.

Being unjustly called a pedophile, in order to separate him permanently from his children, may be the final indignity for a man who deserves not an iota of scorn for a choice not easily made and deeply felt for the grief he has caused his family and friends. It is rare to find such an honest portrayal of the difficulties a decision like his causes for everyone in his life.

Without rancor or weeping and screaming from his family, Tremors quietly exposes the blindness of those surrounding him and his own uncertainty that he may have made the wrong decision.

The later scenes of his society’s helping him becoming normal through therapy are the real pain of Tremors because his heart is not in the transformation, but he is willing to sacrifice his own happiness to be with his family.

Nowhere in contemporary cinema will you get as uncompromising a view of the unjust heartache attendant on choosing a societal imperative over one’s happiness.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at