A darling of the festival circuit thanks to his delightful breakthrough feature Our Beloved Month of August, Portugal’s Miguel Gomes confirms his promise with this new release – among the most singular and captivating films you’ll see this year.
Shot in gorgeous black and white, and in the vintage Academy format, it’s a rich, beguiling affair exploring the relationship between desire and fantasies – both cinematic and ideological. Starting off with a sombre modern-day portrait of a Lisbon civil rights lawyer worrying about her seemingly dotty old neighbour, halfway through it takes a stylistic leap, presenting memories of the old girl’s illicit colonial amours as a dream-like refraction of some vintage Hollywood jungle melodrama.
Cannily working in a string of Phil Spector kitsch-pop ballads, it’s an unusual combination to say the least but one which affords all manner of scintillating connections, as it ponders the on-going psychological ripple-effect of a cultural and political legacy which refuses to stay in the past. Dazzling, provocative, and thrillingly original. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)