- Published: Sunday, 10 September 2023 23:56
- Written by Lupe R Haas
ARISTOTLE & DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE is a sweet-natured, coming-of-age movie with breakthrough performances from newcomers Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales.
Director and writer Aitch Alberto adapts the NY Times best-selling YA novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Set in 1987 El Paso, Aristotle, a Mexican-American teenager, forms a friendship with Dante at a time when both are in the midst of an identity crisis.
The Latino-led cast includes Max Pelayo, Reese Gonzales, Eugenio Derbez, Eva Longoria, Veronica Falcón (Queen of the South) and Kevin Alejandro (Lucifer)
ARISTOTLE & DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE's producer list is an impressive one with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Derbez's 3Pas Studios serving as producers. Actress Kyra Sedgwick is an executive producer.
ARISTOTLE & DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE stands out as an unpredictable story. These characters are simply navigating daily life as teenagers and discovering who they are one day at a time, and the viewer is hooked to see it through the end.
Director and writer Aitch Alberto doesn't pander to the usual Latino and queer tropes. While the characters are clearly Latinos, Alberto treats them as individuals rather than cultural models. The same goes for Aristotle and Dante's sexuality. These young boys are in self-discovery mode without any outward appearance that suggest one thing or another. Their realization of their sexuality is gradual and low-key. There are no flamboyant tendencies or other stereotypes.
Pelayo's Aristotle is a very subdued character but with a very expressive face. You take to him right away as a shy and respectful teen. Gonzales as Dante brings a bit more controlled energy. Their friendship is the core of the story, and you're invested in this simple slice of life story.
Eugenio Derbez is unrecognizable as Aristotle's father who lacks any charisma unlike the actor's usual roles. Queen of the South's Veronica Falcon, as always, brings a strong presence as the lead's mother. Eva Longoria and Kevin Alejandro are underused as Dante's parents, serving as background.
ARISTOTLE & DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE is a slice of life movie with important themes and portrays young gay people in a very human manner.
ARISTOTLE & DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE is now playing in movie theaters.