Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Colossal Youth (orig. La Juventude em Marcha) [2006]

MPAA (UR would be R) Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CineEuropa.org listing

avoir-alire.fr  (R. Le Vern) review*
revistacinetica.com.br (P. Butcher) review*
Sight & Sound (M. Gomes) review

AV Club (S. Tobias) review
Slant.com (F. de Croce) review

Colossal Youth (orig. La Juventude em Marcha) [2006] [IMDb] [CEu] (written and directed by Pedro Costa [en.wikip] [pt.wikip]* [IMDb] [CEu]) is a haunting, cinematographically brilliant if minimalist (and lengthy...)  film that is probably the most famous creation to date of this PORTUGUESE DIRECTOR. Costa's latest film,  Cavalo Dinhiero [2014] [IMDb] [CEu], arguably a sequel to Colossal played recently at the 2015 - 18th Chicago European Union Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago.  Since I was unable to see Cavalo, I decided to look-up and review this film on which it was based instead.  (Where did I find Colossal Youth?  Through the rent-by-mail-service of Facets Multimedia in Chicago).

Set in the context of Lisbon's Fontainhas slum as it was being demolished and its largely Cape Verdan immigrant (largely black) inhabitants were being moved to "new(er) quarters" out "in the suburbs," Colossal Youth (orig. La Juventude em Marcha) [2006] [IMDb] [CEu] the film's pace is frustratingly if IMHO _deliberately_ slow.  The characters -- Ventura, Vanda, one even nicknamed "Lento" (slow ...) all incidently PLAYING THEMSELVES -- appear to live in almost suspended animation.  Things, _important things_, are happening _to them_: Ventura is looking for a new place, Vanda is worried about her kids, "Lento" is ill.   But it's all playing out SLOWLY. 

And, again, that's of course largely the point: Time is inexorably moving forward, Change is inexorably taking place ... but how much control, if _any_, do ANY of these people have over what's happening around them and even _to them_?

My only complaint in regards to the movie is that it portrays the ghetto life of the poor in this slum to be NECESSARILY and ONLY ... "SLOW" and LARGELY "SOLITARY."  I do believe that this was the decision of the film-maker to underline the FUNDAMENTAL HELPLESSNESS of the SLUM DWELLERS PORTRAYED.

Yet, most of us who actually know something about life in the "favelas," "barrios" (slums) would know that there is actually a lot of life going on there -- AND that RELIGION plays an important part of that life playing-out (it often provides both Joy and Hope).  There's but one reference in the movie to religion, one of the characters says that he went to Confession.  I'd submit that there would be much, much more going on than that ... even as I understand the point trying to be made by the film makers.

I'd just like to underline that people (even in poor neighborhoods/ slums) are NEVER only victims, we're ALL more than just that. 

But still, very good film and beautifully, beautifully shot!

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.

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