Road Trip through the Alentejo
I just saw the preview of this at the Cinemateca Portuguesa and I enjoyed it greatly. It's basically a road movie following two slightly Beckettian journeymen labourers as they tramp through the Alentejo, the rolling landscape of which is filmed in beautiful dusky tones, wonderful photography for a film that must have been shot on a modest budget. As the story unfolds at the pace of their journey, the characters look for work and a place to rest their heads, musing on their pasts and the contradictory urges to dwell and to move on that underlies their travels. Slightly out of date - does that sort of itinerant agricultural labourer still exist - they meet what is perhaps their modern embodiment, the traveling salesman (who gives them a lift through the timeless countryside, sharing his unorthodoxly poetic view of life). Later on in their journey, hungry, tired, at a low ebb and on the verge of despairing of their existences, they spy a lighted window. They reach a house, where they are given bed, board and new clothes. Setting off the next morning, awoken as if from a dream, they encounter a man out on the road who, when interpellated and asked about the house, claims nobody lives for miles around. Reaching a cafe, they spot a framed photograph of the house on the wall, only to be told by the owner that it shows somewhere in Patagonia. A voice off chimes in, declaring it to be a house formerly existing in that area, where all lonely travelers were treated like returning prodigal sons. Perhaps this is the simple reason why the characters, and we travel: to arrive.
- Oct 8, 2004
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