Synopsis: Tantalizing and sexy, cult director Eliseo Subiela’s (Man Facing Southeast) latest film explores the possibilities of sexual imagination and awakenings. This thoughtful film delves into mysticism and spirituality.
When 19-year-old Eloy walks and crashes through the roof of a beautiful woman, Elvira, he discovers the tantric and therapeutic powers of the Kama Sutra of which she is an expert.
No mires para abajo 7.75
eyelights: its presentation of Taoist sexual techniques. its sexy bits. its surrealistic bits. its quirky bits.
eyesores: its lack of narrative. Leandro Stivelman’s performance.
“I’ve annihilated myself and live for you.”
I’ve been a proponent of Taoist sexual techniques for decades. When I was 18, I fell for a then-friend’s sister. She had taken out some sex manuals from the library, including Jolan Chang’s ‘The Tao of Love and Sex’. Intrigued by it and, emboldened by the fact that a 16-year-old could take these books out, I decided to explore it.
It was a life-changing decision.
Though I would never dare think of myself as a good lover, then as now, what the book did for me was to give me a head start on my peers: with the techniques described within its pages, I could last nearly indefinitely, bounce back faster, and also mitigate the risk of pregnancy. It was everything that a young man could hope for.
Fascinatingly, though the book had been published some 15 years prior, it wasn’t exactly well-known. And even now, 25 years later, it’s a book that is only familiar in certain circles. So you can imagine my surprise and satisfaction when ‘Bliss‘, a picture that illustrated the power of Tao, came out in 1997. It spoke my language.
But, yet again, few heard its wisdom.
Fast forward to the present. I sat down to watch ‘No mires para abajo’, which I’d heard was about Tantric sex. Though I’ve been intrigued about the Tantra for years, I haven’t quite been able to find the right learning material. So I was curious to see how it would be portrayed here, in this Argentinian film by Eliseo Subiela.
‘No mires para abajo’ had two surprises in store for me:
1. It wasn’t about Tantra at all: it was about the Tao. It focused on some of the shallow and deep stroke techniques, expressed its core theories about male orgasm vs male ejaculation, and also demonstrated a large number of positions with flowery Eastern names. It’s a very basic primer on some of the core practices of Tao.
2. Eliseo Subiela is the director of ‘No te mueras sin decirme adónde vas’, a gorgeous picture I fell in love with 15 years ago but haven’t seen since. I’d always hoped I would stumble upon a DVD copy somewhere or that it would be someday re-released on blu-ray (the Facet Video DVD was cropped and made from a p!$$-poor print).
I am very pleased by these two things alone.
The picture itself has very little plot; concerned as it is with developing its audiences’ understanding of Tao, it has very little time for anything else. It essentially tells the tale of Eloy, a naïve and inexperienced young man who sleepwalks into his neighbour’s bedroom one night and finds in her a willing teacher of the Tao.
Though this sounds like a midnight movie type plot, there’s a little bit more to it: Eloy began sleepwalking after the passing of his father. A believer in ghosts, he thinks his father is writing him notes, sees him gesticulating messages, and sees the dead souls lined up outside the cemetery, sitting in folding chairs.
So he’s far more susceptible to Elvira’s unconventional beliefs.
And it makes of him a willing student.
Honestly, I thought that the sexy scenes, though not especially explicit, were pretty hot. It was all about the connection between two people; it was slow, intimate, all about exchange, as Elvira coached Eloy through their lovemaking. They didn’t do anything that we haven’t seen before, though they expressed things that few have.
The most outlandish part of it was the notion that Eloy could travel to distant places when he got past 60 strokes (or between 80 and 100, according to Elvira) and that he would return when he climaxed. Yeah, that’s not a Taoist thing: that’s Subiela throwing a little fantasy into the mix to make the picture more colourful.
He also quirked it up by putting Eloy in a cartoony empanada suit or on stilts as he distributes flyers, and has both he and Elvira walking around town on stilts after he shows her how. He also gave the pair unusual familial ties, with Eloy’s family thinking he’s on drugs or flaky and Elvira’s grandmother being an aura reader.
He also breaks up the pair’s lovemaking with stories of past experiences that marked each character, like Eloy sleepwalking into his dad’s lover who has also been sleepwalking since his death, Eloy recounting how he got started walking in stilts, and Elvira telling him about how she was lucky to have escape death as a child.
The performances are credible all around: Leandro Stivelman and Antonella Costa are decent as Eloy and Elvira, though Stivelman has a goofy Ringo Starr quality about him that didn’t always suit the scenes. Costa, however, was pretty convincing as both a teacher and a lover and they made for a genuine couple together.
But, ultimately, ‘No mires para abajo’ is about Tao, not Eloy or Elvira. And though it’s wrapped up in a quirky, fantastical package, it’s likely not a picture that would appeal to general audiences. Its concepts are far too “out there” for most people, and many might dismiss it for its lack of plot, not realizing that it’s about fact, not fiction.
In any event, I’m glad that I gave it a look.
It’s damned sexy.
(And now I’m going to have to make a point of revisiting ‘No te mueras sin decirme adónde vas’; it’s been far too long.)
Date of viewing: February 19, 2017