Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make all the difference and that’s exactly where Papi Chulo finds it rhythm in this unique story of two opposite characters, who help each other to heal in the most charming way.
Sean (Matt Bomer), a solitary and alienated television weatherman, drives past a middle-aged Hispanic migrant worker named Ernesto (Alejandro Patino) standing outside a hardware store looking for work. He decides to hire this kind-looking man, to be his friend, in this darkly comedic reflection on class, ethnicity, and companionship in contemporary Los Angeles. Sean is young, gay and white; Ernesto, portly, straight and married. Despite having nothing in common and the language barrier, they build a sort of friendship, until Sean becomes consumed with a deeper obsessive need.
Regarded as one of Hollywood’s most dashing actors, Matt Bomer takes a solid turn with Papi Chulo, in a performance that is filled will soul and heart, and allows audiences to see him in a new light. As our lead character Sean, a noted Los Angeles weatherman, Bomer’s Sean, on the surface has everything, success, good looks and solid future prospects, but who in reality is reeling from a traumatic breakup and a loss at what to do with himself. Still reeling from a recent break-up with his partner Carlos, Sean has shut himself off from the world at large and is in a great deal of pain. It’s a performance from Bomer that I’ve never really seen him give before, and he is completely credible as this character who is totally lost in the world and desperately in need of some form of company.
It’s then that Sean is by chance introduced to Ernesto (Alejandro Patino), a middle-aged Mexican day labourer whom he hires to help fix up his house, and who becomes a surrogate friend and consular to the painfully lonely weatherman. While Bomer is the more active of the two characters, Patino’s Ernesto has this bemused, sage-like sense about himself as he becomes Sean’s confidant and these two characters go on a journey of discovery and healing that is entirely peculiar, but most certainly not without its charm. Patino’s Ernesto is more of a reactionary character and its interesting to see these two characters mingle and grow together on screen.
While Papi Chulo’s story is most definitely unique and unexpected, it’s a film of big heart and commitment and director John Butler strives to examine what lies at the centre of connection and the human need for it. Butler’s film is very much a story of interpersonal relationships and the director captures it with a softness and gentleness that makes this film seem that much more comforting, especially given the often stressful and hectic times that we are living through at the moment.
Papi Chulo is a very kind-hearted film that is sure to fill your soul with ease as it examines the power of human connection, and how sometimes the most unexpected of friendships can come from anywhere.