LOS ANGELES – The singular friendship of a Latino worker and a white, gay television weatherman is the basis of “Papi Chulo,” whose star, Matt Bomer, thinks that in times of division and hate like the present, this film offers a humanistic message of hope.
“I think we live in very divisive times where people are encouraging us to build walls between communities,” the actor told EFE.
“The fact that we have two different characters, both from communities that have been marginalized or can be stereotyped on film, and giving them real depth and human dimension and are able to connect with each other, and become better people because of that, I think is a really important message,” he said.
Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Series for “The Normal Heart” and also known for movies like “Music Mike” (2012), Bomer, 41, together with the Latino Alejandro Patiño, heads the cast of “Papi Chulo,” which premieres this Friday in US theaters.
“Papi Chulo” is the story of Sean (Bomer), a popular TV personality with many personal problems due to the end of a relationship.
After having a nervous breakdown during his weather forecast on television, Sean has to get back on track, for which he hires Ernesto (Patiño), a Mexican laborer with whom he begins an improbable friendship.
Applauded at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Papi Chulo” features outstanding acting by both Bomer and Patiño as they portray the intimate doubts and contradictions of the two characters.
“The great dichotomy about Sean is that on paper he is somebody who should be so happy and fulfilled and he’s not: he is dying inside,” Bomer said.
“He is trying to present a really great face to the world, which I think gives a good comedic tension to the character. But as we see from the first scene, where he has a nervous breakdown in the middle of his meteorological forecast, he is falling apart,” he said.
That’s when Ernesto shows up, representing a world apart from his own.
Sean belongs to the upper middle class, while Ernesto lives in a modest Latino neighborhood. One lives almost alone, the other is surrounded by a big Mexican family. And while the first is dragged down by his past, the second appears to help him in every way.
“In Ernesto, he sees someone who has the stability he craves,” Bomer said.
Sean “can’t even sit still, and here is somebody who comes just rock solid and who is able to be his most authentic self. Someone who would listen and accept his humanity,” he said.
However, Ernesto hardly speaks a word of English, which leads to some funny situations in “Papi Chulo.”
In that sense, Ernesto says that “little by little” he is trying to understand what kind of person Sean is.
“We go to a lake to row a boat and Sean says, ‘You know what, Ernesto? You’re a person who knows how to listen. Thanks for that.’ And I don’t understand him because I don’t speak English. That’s the joke between the two characters,” Patiño said.