However, though I like `The Policewoman' very much, I feel this film is not as daring and uncompromising as `Gloria'. The storyline of `The Policewoman' is much easier to follow, and the ending of `The Policewoman', though as abrupt as `Gloria', is not as enigmatic.
What makes me fall in love with `The Policewoman' is not the plot, but its obsession with dark forests and darkness. While I was watching `The Policewoman', I felt the sunlight in some scenes in this film was too strong. It was so strong that it irritated my eyes. I realized later that the sunlight in some scenes in this film was not too strong, but the viewers felt the sunlight was unbearable because this film left the viewers in darkness for such a long time that the viewers' eyes cannot adapt to bright light suddenly. I once had this kind of experience while I was watching `Zmej' (2002, Aleksai Muradov). When a character in `Zmej' switched on the light to drive away the darkness, I felt the light was too strong and very unwelcome. Both `Zmej' and `The Policewoman' belong to a wonderful kind of cinema-a cinema which makes your eyes hate sunlight and daytime.
Another thing that I like very much is the role of the policewoman in this film. The policewoman in this film behaves like an angel, but what I like very much is that the viewers rarely have a chance to look at her face clearly. The face of the policewoman was shown clearly on the screen for about one minute. She mostly stays in the darkness. Her face is hidden or half-hidden for most of the time. Yet, she has a very strong presence and an important role in this film. Her character, along with the character of the truck driver who plays football with Rato, give hope to the cruel world portrayed in this film. Though her character stays in the darkness physically, her character is really the bright light of hope, mercy, kindness and understanding.
I also like many other scenes in this film, including the scenes which show nearly empty roads and nearly empty landscapes. I also love the beginning of this film very much. This film starts with shots of beautiful landscapes, of a tree with a heart carved into it, of a hand caressing that tree, of a woman leaning on that tree, of the woman picking flowers, of the woman with the flower in a cemetery. All these scenes are wordless, yet can tell the story effectively. The sad feeling in these scenes are so strong. This film uses minimal expressions to convey maximal feelings.
Scenes that I like include every scene which shows the strong tension between Tania and Liliana, especially the scene in which Tania visits Liliana at the shop, and the scene in which Tania walks in front, Rato walks in the middle, and Liliana walks behind them. One can sense how much Tania and Liliana distrust each other. But the tension between them is conveyed very beautifully and in a restrained way.
Other scenes which are so deeply ingrained in my mind are the scene of Tania when she heard the news about her son, and the scene of Tania in front of a fireplace. These scenes are very sad and heartbreaking. And Tania is such a wonderful character. She may love her son too much and does too many stupid things for him, and it may be because she is just a human being--a human being who is prone to make mistakes, make bad choices, a victim of their own stupidity and stubbornness, a human being whose flame of hope won't die out easily during the downpour of bad lucks. Her character shares the same weakness with Margaret Hall' (Tilda Swinton) in `The Deep End'. These women endanger themselves because they love their sons.
The eyes of Rato is another thing that I like. His eyes make his character more enigmatic. He is not a kid who wants his audience to feel pity for him, especially by the way he behaves near the end of the movie. Some viewers might feel both sad and relieved with the fate of Rato at the end of the film.
Other performers in the film don't have many chances to show their talents, but their scenes are memorable, thanks to the director. The scene of Liliana which I like very much is the scene in which she has some kind of reaction when she sees her uncle enters her cell in the prison. And the benign truck driver provides the warmest scene in this film. He plays football with Rato in the dark, using only lights from the truck. However, in this film, warm feelings can appear only briefly. Rato follows the football and disappears into the dark. That moment is unforgettable.
Joaquim Sapinho, together with Manuela Viegas, Manoel de Oliveira, Joao Pedro Rodrigues, Fernando Matos Silva, and Manuel Mozos, really makes me feel very enthusiastic for Portuguese cinema. I can't wait to see other films of all these directors.