Lonesome Collectors (Noches de Julio) (2018)

Lonesome Collectors (Noches de Julio) first published by EyeforFilm

From the outside, young Julio (Hoze Melendez) looks to be merely a ‘weirdo’ and a ‘creep’ – words actually used of him by his boss at the laundromat, by the landlady for whom he never has full rent, and even by his own father. Yet we know from the very beginning of Lonesome Collectors (Noches de Julio), as we see Julio stroking and deeply sniffing items of clothing, that he is also a sensualist. In fact, Julio is emotionally crippled and lacking in the most basic social skills, and so confines himself to intimate relations with others through their material possessions alone. Instead of getting to know people, he secretly tries on their clothes, and breaks into their homes when they are away to inhabit an idea of their inner lives without – in theory – leaving any trace of himself. 

Not that this furtive, vicarious existence prevents Julio from seeming the very definition of a creep – and it does not help that his actions recall the supremely creepy secretive home invasions of, say, Kim Ki-duk’s 3-Iron (2004), Jaume Balagueró’s Sleep Tight (2011) and Dominic Bridges’ Freehold (2017). Julio is, after all, a stalker, even if it is clear that he would be terrified of any conversation, let alone actual physical contact, with his targets. His loneliness and social isolation are gaps that he fills with fantasies about people which he draws from the superficial trappings of their lives – and so he is akin to an online lurker, stealthily visiting the chatrooms, feeds and pages of others without ever interacting.

As such, Julio is figured as a romantic for the Internet age – and Axel Muñoz’s feature debut takes a turn towards quirky romance as Julio discovers that there is someone else (Florencia Ríos) out there just like him who has in fact been sneaking into his dingy apartment all the time that he has been elsewhere. If only these larcenous lovers can meet and make their dreams come true together – although by the end, any such coupling comes with the suspicion that we might still be witnessing Julio’s imaginative fantasy.

© Anton Bitel