The beautiful opening scene of Pornomelancolía immediately sets the tone that the title so perfectly encapsulates. Lalo Santos, a Mexican online nude model and gay porn actor, stands alone on the sidewalk as people pass him by – both physically and in the spectral reflections in the window through which we watch him. It’s as if he is simultaneously in the frame and absent from it; like he is actually present on the street, but also just a phantom on a screen. And then he bursts into tears. This scene, like all the other superbly lit and well-composed shots, resembles those from a feature film.
Santos is his own boss, and he’s successful online. Except for one instance when it looks like he’s being pushed beyond his limits, there’s an atmosphere of camaraderie on the set of the ambitious porn film about the Mexican revolution – and Santos is the star, in the role of Zapata. But the hesitant voice messages to his mother, and the feelings of lethargy he confesses to his doctor, reveal that his online existence, like that of many influencers, is taking an emotional toll. The boundaries blur between public and private, virtual and real, work and intimacy – and between porn and melancholy.