We wanted to make a film about a teenage mother. We met Joana in a casting that took place in Setubal, in the Bela Vista neighborhood. She appeared to us as a porcelain doll, small, fragile...
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We wanted to make a film about a teenage mother. We met Joana in a casting that took place in Setubal, in the Bela Vista neighborhood. She appeared to us as a porcelain doll, small, fragile, pale, with a little hair bow. Little by little, she crumbled apart, revealing a charming complexity. We were conquered by the duality of strength and fragility, freedom and incarceration, joy and sorrow. The intimacy and complicity we were able to establish with her made this film possible. In Cat's Cradle, we share her with everyone else.Written by
Meet Joana, a single mother from Setubal, Portugal
What is it like to be an eighteen-year-old single mother in Bela Vista, a popular district of Setúbal, (a medium-sized town by the Atlantic South of Lisbon)? You can find part of the answer in « Cama de Gato» relevant in terms of sociology but only half-satisfying as a documentary. Co-directed by João Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis, the film works well as pure social commentary: throughout its 57 minutes running time you will be provided valuable information about Joana Santos, the young single mother in question: the public housing apartment she lives in with her baby girl, the school she still attends (if only very occasionally), the people she mixes with, the cafés she stops at, her relationships with her friends, parents, cousin...
If I say half satisfying, blame it on the choice of the main protagonist, Joana Santos. Well, the girl IS pretty and cheerful, in other words pleasant to look at, but I personally disliked her personality: superficial, self-centered, not to say downright irresponsible. Which is why having to spend so much time with a person whose attitude I globally disapprove of upset me a little. I'd rather have lived an hour of my life with a person more engaging than Joana. To this rule, I have come across only one exception, the long sequence in which the girl talks with tears in her eyes about her botched love story with the father of her child. In this case, Joana appears as a three-dimensional human being, not as a puppet of consumer society always trying to get immediate pleasure. Then, and only then, did I manage to relate to her. The rest of the time, she got on my nerves.
Well you could object to me that films are not necessarily about likable persons or characters and you would be right. In this case you will not be disturbed the way I was by the lightness of the person "Cama de Gato" focuses on and you will be able to fullyenjoy this documentary which, beyond that "shortcoming", has an undeniable sociologic value.
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