The (English-language) title is apt; that this so blatantly announces itself from the jump as diaphanous & intentionally elusive allows it to get away with quite a lot. The framing device & the central plot need much more elaboration to really hang together in any kind of coherent or even meaningful way, it's really just a series of intriguing set pieces. Awareness of Portuguese history + contemporary politics & culture certainly connects some dots, & does really bring out the gallows humor.
Was startled & then impressed by the unsentimentality, which more than occasionally tips to outright harshness & existential despair. But also rowdy & shambly in a delightful way, & if not exactly horny, then obsessed with male genitalia in a way that is genuinely shocking to Americans accustomed to rigid culturally-enforced sexlessness with anything that might cross the eyes of children (apparently this is a prominent aspect of tanuki folklore, & I appreciated this historical & cultural specificity was retained).
At the same time, the story…
Movie villain: Tomas. Actual villain: Martin.
jkjk, Sachs is a filmmaker who imbues his characters & depiction of interpersonal dynamics with way too much complexity & subtly to even attempt sorting actions & behavior into neat good/bad categories. But as exasperating & messy as Tomas' behavior was, I often found myself even more frustrated by Martin's passive aggressiveness, which is just as damaging to a relationship in its stealthy way.
But what a magnificent trio of actors, who are asked to perform an emotional…
It's rather a shame that this put such a large target on its back because it's the type of film that should have been a pleasant surprise to discover & then tell your friends to check out on a weekend night in. Instead it became a victim of The Discourse, & frankly I can't sympathize because it put itself in that position. What an utter miscalculation.
The film itself? It's fine. It's best in the first half when it functions more as…