João Canijo latest movie adapts a Greek tragedy "Ifigénia en Aulis" to a provincial Portuguese family that has to deal with the Russian Mafia after a deal went wrong. In a place where everything is bought and sold even the youngest daughter may have to be offered for prostitution to make up for a deal that went terribly wrong. "Noite Escura" deals with the emotions of a small family that runs a provincial whorehouse, having to sell their youngest in order to survive. Written by
This movie was a bit of a letdown for me, i started watching it with reasonably high expectations and although it wasn't a complete waste of time, it's far from being anything special. The movie takes place over the course of one night in a brothel in the Portuguese country side, the father of the family that owns it was involved in a business with the Russian mafia, something went wrong, and now to compensate the Russians he has to give his younger daughter away to work as a prostitute in Spain. The film looks good, nice photography and camera-work with some clever shots, that keep the film from getting too slow paced. The overall mood is well accomplished, with some nice acting from the girls playing the prostitutes, a combination of Brazilian and middle eastern women that work under conditions very similar to slavery. There are a few great performances, especially from Fernando Luís as the father who plays a weak and cold-hearted man, and Beatriz Batarda who plays the older daughter the only sympathetic character in the movie, Beatriz is one of the most talented actresses in Portuguese cinema right now, and her performance on this is really special. I recommend you see Beatriz in the far superior film "Alice" that won the Regards Jeunes award at this year's Cannes Movie Festival. So whats exactly is wrong with this film? Well the plot is week and not that credible, and the dialog is very cheesy throughout, which makes it really hard for the viewer to sympathize with the characters. Also, the end seems very abrupt, and we are left without a real sense of closing. This could have been great, but ended up as just another failed attempt, in the already stale world of Portuguese cinema.
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