João Pedro Rodrigues will not fall to his knees before the cackling god of the Sophomore Slump. He avoids this by worshipping a different deity, one entirely of his own creation: The Goddess of Will. Her name is Odete, a six-foot creature who travels by rollerskate and whose face represents a ferocious blank slate—a scanner-darkly visage that allows her to resemble no one yet everyone at the same time. Shelley Duvall. Sarah Polley. Fiona Apple. Milla Jovovich. Maybe a boy. Perhaps Pedro (João Carreira), dead at 21 on the night of his one-year anniversary to Rui (Nuno Gil). Only the cosmos—heartbreaker and dreammaker—is to blame for this death, but the rain that falls from the sky after Pedro has flown through the windshield of his car is not so much a sign of remorse as it is a portent of things to come. Rodrigues, once again, is using film as a medium (in the Patricia Arquette sense of the word), a funnel through which the unconscious and subconscious are annexed. Like O Fantasma, perhaps the scariest and finest film ever made about the compulsion of gay desire, Two Drifters’ sensual-spiritual plumbing is totally off-the-map; one film charts the topography of desire, the other scopes the limits of our grief. Except for a scattered pan here and there—the most gripping is a Godardian my-life-to-live swipe of Odete, ostensibly pregnant with the dead Pedro’s child, rolling a baby carriage to the cemetery where Pedro slumbers—Rodrigues’s camera is mostly static, framed strikingly along every up-down-diagonal plane imaginable, evocative of his characters’ crash-into-me anxieties. When it rains it pours, and when the wind spills through Odete’s window it is to lead her to Pedro’s wake, which invokes the Calvin Klein-mode of asymmetrical symmetry Mark Romanek uses in his music videos. After O Fantasma, this is a definite upgrade for Rodrigues, who continues to work on an almost elemental level but whose supposition of nature as a conduit for communication between people delves into deeper emotional terrain. He’s not just getting physical now, but also mystical.
- Strand Releasing
- 98 min
- João Pedro Rodrigues
- Paulo Rebels, João Pedro Rodrigues
- Ana Cristina de Oliveira, Nuno Gil, João Carreira, Teresa Madruga, Carloto Cotta
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