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After the Portuguese government demolishes his slum and relocates him to a housing project on the outskirts of Lisbon, 75-year-old Cape Verde immigrant Ventura wanders between his new and old homes, reconnecting with people from his past. (from Wikipedia) Written by
Slow but exquisitely beautiful portrayal of an immigrant's life
Don't look for a plot. Immerse yourself in the sequence of apparently disconnected vignettes. Get to know the main character, Ventura, a Cape Verdean that emigrated to Portugal around 1972; now, retired and still poor.
This is scrambled story telling in slow motion. Often I found myself thinking about Beckett. The dialogs appear irrelevant, having to do with mundane personal life experiences, friends and relatives. These are poorly educated people after all. In fact one better pay close attention to the prate. It is through small revelations and asides in conversations that we pick up the clues to the life of Ventura and those close to him.
The quiet and unpretentious acting, the extended takes, the absence of broad movements, the occasional lengthy silence, all can be soporific. Yet one needs to listen carefully.
The most captivating aspect is what the director and the cameraman did. Each scene is meticulously framed. Except for a couple of simple pans, the camera is invariably fixed. The overall result is like walking through an art museum. Each shot is a painting, the actors sometimes still, sometimes moving in and out of the frame. The naturalistic lighting reminded of paintings by Rembrandt of persons of a certain standing in Dutch society. Here Pedro Costa paints the faces of simple folks in the stark and denuded ambiances of a poor neighborhood. The visual effect is magical.
The actors are not dramatically stressed, except for the principal female role. Her long, inward monologues feel so authentic and natural that I could swear she was acting her own true self. The male actors are stiff placeholders, but don't dismiss what they are saying.
The story plays as a song. There is a refrain in the form of a love letter to a woman left behind in Cape Verde. It is repeated many times throughout. Again pay attention to the words each time as small variations occur with a telling commentary.
The ironic title is delectable.
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