A TV weatherman (Matt Bomer) breaks down into tears during a live broadcast. He is told to take time off work and decides to use the time to get his patio tidied up and repainted. He hires a Latino migrant worker (Alejandro Patino) for the job and soon strikes up an unusual, somewhat one-sided friendship with him.
Matt Bomer has had an interesting and varied line of credits. He’s probably still best-known for ‘Magic Mike’ but he’s also starred in series like HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’, ‘Doom Patrol’, ‘American Horror Story’ and most recently ‘Will and Grace’ (in which, funnily enough, he plays a news anchor) and films like ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.’ While not quite a household name yet, being one of those actors who looks like so many other actors (particularly Henry Cavill), Bomer’s performance in ‘Papi Chulo’ proves he should be.
He really plays against type and captures the broken heartedness of his character, Sean, just beautifully. You don’t for a second doubt his loneliness and imbalance. Posed as a comedy-drama, ‘Papi Chulo’ may be described more accurately as a tragicomedy and is one of the best of its kind since ‘Garage’. Interestingly enough, it too has an Irish writer-director behind it in John Butler (‘The Stag’, ‘Handsome Devil’), which you can almost tell just by the way the setting of California is shot – with awe at how great the sunshine is.
Opposite Bomer, Patino is note perfect as a nice, nonchalant, normal guy who finds himself forced to go along with this madman. But ‘Papi Chulo’ goes against what you’d normally expect in a buddy comedy (a friendship grows and overcomes obstacles like language barriers and cultural differences) instead veering off into another direction entirely. It has a strong message about mental health and looking out for one another but the thing about ‘Papi Chulo’ is that it’s hard to laugh when it goes into comedy territory because witnessing Sean’s psychological collapse is just so sad. It is certainly unlike any other film you’ll see this year but don’t go into it expecting something uplifting.