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last update 10.Jun.18
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R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Al Berto
3/5  
dir-scr Vicente Alves do O
prd Pandora da Cunha Telles, Pablo Iraola
with Ricardo Teixeira, Jose Pimentao, Raquel Rocha Vieira, Joana Almeida, Ana Vilela da Costa, Gabriela Barros, Joao Villas-Boas, Duarte Grilo, Jose Leite, Rute Miranda, Miguel Seabra, Rita Loureiro
teixeira and pimentao release Por 5.Oct.17,
US Jun.18 fosd,
UK 11.Jun.18
17/Portugal 1h49
Al Berto This Portuguese period drama is produced to a very high standard, with particularly strong production design and sharply defined characters. And along with the strong sense of history, the film works as a larger parable about the world in general when it comes to diversity and the battle for equality. The narrative structure is very open-handed, which is great for drawing the audience in. But where it goes is a bit of a challenge.

In 1975, aspiring poet Alberto (Teixeira) is inspired to put a space in his name, making it more artistic. And he'd much rather be in Paris than the small coastal town of Sines. In a turbulent political time, Al Berto and his friends (Barros, da Costa, Grilo, Leite and others) discuss the issues and try to think of a hopeful future. Then on a night out he meets singer Joao (Pimentao), sparking a warm, easy romance that everyone sees as a promising sign. The problem is that neighbours aren't so welcoming.

Filmmaker Alves vividly recreates a groovy vibe in this period of youthful expression, with characters who unapologetically long for open, free and full lives. The plot may be somewhat loose and meandering, but there's a strong emotional kick in the interaction between the people, especially the loved-up Al Berto and Joao, who never question why they're drawn to each other. Although this makes the more melodramatic moments in their relationship feel a bit contrived

Performances are relaxed and earthy, gently bringing out the camaraderie between these educated, idealistic friends as well as the jealousies and frustrations. These are very strong, artistic young people, and their personalities and opinions frequently clash in intriguing ways as they set up house in Al Berto's reclaimed family manor. Their attempt to charm the locals with a poetry recital is hilarious. The unexpressed longings between them are moving.

Alves is inventively exploring a point when, with the revolution failed and the dictator overthrown, young people are feeling like the time is ripe for personal liberty. And yet the political arguments continue, leading to confrontations that range from mild insults to serious threats of violence. This utopia is far more vulnerable than they think it is. So in the final act, as things begin to unravel, the film loses its sense of joyous momentum, becoming a much more sober reminder about the realities of the world we still live in.

18 themes, language, sexuality
9.Jun.18

R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Hard Paint
4/5   Tinta Bruta
dir-scr-prd Filipe Matzembacher, Marcio Reolon
with Shico Menegat, Bruno Fernandes, Guega Peixoto, Sandra Dani, Frederico Vasques, Denis Gosh, Camila Falcao, Aurea Baptista, Larissa Sanguine, fernandes and menegat Adao Barbosa
bodalo release UK Mar.18 flare
18/Brazil 1h58

BERLIN FILM FEST
flare film fest
Hard Paint There's a raw sensitivity to this Brazilian drama that digs deeply under the surface, pulling the audience into the internal journey of a painfully shy young man at a key moment in his life. While some sequences are painful to watch, the film is warm, humane and very sexy. It's shot in a darkly colourful visual style that continually reveals new details. And the central performance from newcomer Shico Menegat is mesmerising.

As he awaits sentencing for an assault that ended his university studies, Pedro (Menegat) basically locks himself in his bedroom, earning money performing a naked webcam show using neon paint. When his journalist sister (Peixoto) gets a job across the country, he's all alone, forcing himself to go outside for at least five minutes a day. Then he discovers that another webcam performer, Leo (Fernandes), has stolen his idea, so he arranges to meet him, and they decide to perform as a duo. But as their relationship deepens, things are changing for both of them.

Directors Matzembacher and Reolon shoot everything from Pedro's perspective, capturing his awkward isolation from the world around him. Even his webcam performances are tentative, although they offer an outlet for artistic and sexual expression. So when he connects with Leo, the shift is both gentle and powerful, opening him up to the world around him and giving him hope for the future. Although it's not that easy, of course, and the final act has a tough edge to it.

Menegat gives a beautifully understated performance, revealing emotions with only the tiniest flicker of his face. He may look impassive, but we see his frustration, pain and joy gurgling up inside. And as the film layers in his back-story, his deeper emotions become much more powerful. Opposite him, Fernandes offers a much more physical presence, smiling and dancing, open to the world around him. So of course Leo draws Pedro, reluctantly, out of his shell. Their chemistry is sharply well-played, intense but also realistically fragile.

This is a bold film that's unafraid to depict the full physicality of its characters. The actors make themselves vulnerable on-screen, which adds an intense kick of resonance for viewers. We may not be able to identify with the desire to broadcast our painted bodies across the internet, but we all have a persona we hide, and we wish we could let them out. So even if this film doesn't quite know how to end, it leaves us chewing on that important thought.

18 themes, language, sexuality, violence
30.Mar.18

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