I watched this movie praised by most critics for its beauty. And it is a beautiful shot movie because of mis-e- scene, acting, lightning and camera. It is all superb in its self inflicted-limitations. Very simple mis-en=.scene and dressing of mostly very poor slum interiors, all shot at night. Fascinating acting of the woman Vitalina who's face is so great to look at in the many close ups. The lightning which makes with its claire obscure and brilliant color accents everything into a Carravagio painting. And the camera which chooses always a fixed cadre like a painting and gets the light and colors in a subtle way. There is hardly a story cause there is no development. It is more the depiction of the failed life of the just died husband of Vitalina, told to us through her eyes, her monologues, searching for details and questions to the priest who buried him. In one scene the husband is shown seen on his slender young naked back lying in the matrimonial bed still in Cabo Verdi. The now young wife Vitalina stands up and walks out of their self build house into a beautiful but dry landscape.
The general theme of the movie is the misery of life in general and that of Cabe Verdian migrant workers in particular. My question watching the movie was and is what is the function of all this beauty, what is it for? Is it to show that allthough life is miserable the figures in this movie experience it as beautiful? The answer is negative cause they are desperate in their life and see no light. Is the beauty meant to soften our experience of viewing all this malheur? Of course it does. How to watch so much ugliness for such a long time if there is not something nice to be seen? It has that softening and pleasurable effect but it is not the main function of all this esthetica . I think the function is deeper. Is it l'art pour l'art: beauty for beauty sake? Maybe but what does that mean here? I think that in a religious way we are shown the deep humanity of all these unlucky and unhappy people and the possibility to reconcile ourselves through this beauty with human life. At least I think it is meant that way by the maker of the movie. Did it work that way with me? In a way yes but not in a satisfactory way. Maybe that's my fault.