At the opposite end from Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces — in terms of both the Iberian Peninsula and filmmaking — is the ponderous Portuguese drama To Die Like a Man by director João Pedro Rodrigues.
Opening with a fuck scene that makes the implausible sex in Brokeback Mountain look like National Geographic, the film descends into the sordid story of Tonia (Fernando Santos), a drag queen incapable of standing up for herself, constantly debating whether she should have bottom surgery and transition to female to please her abusive, drug-addicted boyfriend. At 138 minutes, it’s grim, long and grim. Even a mildly amusing middle section featuring a camp performance by Gonçalo Ferreira de Almeida as some sort of Stepford drag queen grinds to a halt as all the characters sit still for a whole five minutes to listen to a song. Did I say it was long and grim?