EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|COLOSSAL YOUTH (JUVENTUDE EM MARCHA) (director/writer: Pedro Costa; cinematographers: Pedro Costa/Leonardo Simres; editor: Pedro Marques; cast: Ventura (Himself), Vanda Duarte (Herself), Beatriz Duarte (Herself), Alberto Barros (Lento), Isabel Cardoso (Clotilde); Runtime: 156; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Francisco Villa-Lobos; Criterion Collection; 2006-Portugal-in Portuguese with English subtitles)|
but lacks entertainment value."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This is the final gloomy film in
the trilogy by Portuguese director Pedro Costa ("In Vanda's
Room"/"Ossos"), a minimalist pic shot on digital video, on the
impoverished life of a group of slum dwellers in Lisbon's Fontáinhas (an area inhabited by immigrants
from Cape Verde), a section now mostly demolished to give way to
low-income public housing.
but lacks entertainment value. A relentless downer docudrama
on the lives of the poor marginalized slum residents. The local non-professionals give sleep-walking
performances, reading their lines as if zombies. The plotless pic
focuses on Ventura, the grey-haired elderly senile father of Vanda, who
apparently doesn't realize his wife, his daughter Vanda's mother, is
dead, and passes his days reaching out to neighbors he considers part
of his family for understanding and human contact.
Through Ventura it's traced how he
in 1972 came with his extended family to live in the Lisbon slum from
his family's hometown of Cape Verde and worked hard all his life to
support his family through his low-paying job as a construction
laborer. Since Ventura is often confused, the pic plays out as a sad
and at times funny ghost story, as the docile old man, relocating from
the slum at Fontáinhas to
public housing, relates his feelings of alienation and abandonment and
we observe him meet his neighbors in such places as alleyways to
briefly chat and visit his daughter Vanda in her basement public
housing flat. Vanda suffers from an acute case of asthma and is worried
she will not live long enough to raise her cute daughter. She relates
that for the last two years the methadone program lured her off her
heroin addiction and made her impoverished life a little brighter.
Not meant to be insightful,
to ennoble misery or merely be a purgatorial
at the unfortunates, Costa's mixture of fiction and non-fiction
simply wants to present these poor souls, Lisbon's invisible people,
with dignity and give them a human face and show that they also are
capable of healthy yearnings, beautiful dreams and of love. In that
limited aim Costa succeeds, in a misunderstood pic that's only for a
limited arthouse audience willing to relate to the unpleasant
rigorous methods of the uncompromising director who views this slow
moving and non-narrative way of filming as the best chance to fully see
how these desperate slum-dwellers live their everyday lives. Costa does
manufacturing Hollywood props, but by just letting his camera blend
into the daily life scenes. It might even be a great film, if one
can get by the tedium, the awkwardness of the mis-en-scene and
vagueness of the storytelling.
REVIEWED ON 5/14/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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