Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Portugal/France/Brazil, 2018. Maria & Mayer, Les Films du Bélier, Syndrome Films, Filmes do Tejo. Screenplay by Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt. Cinematography by Charles Ackley Anderson. Produced by Maria Joao Mayer, Justin Taurand, Daniel van Hoogstraten. Music by Adriana Holtz, Ulysse Klotz. Production Design by Cypress Cook, Bruno Duarte. Costume Design by Cypress Cook. Film Editing by Gabriel Abrantes, Raphaëlle Martin-Holger, Daniel Schmidt. Toronto International Film Festival 2018.
Diamantino Matamouros (Carloto Cotta) is a world-famous soccer player somewhere between Zidane and Beckham, enormously wealthy and hopelessly naive. He loves his soft-spoken and compassionate father, he doesn’t notice that his perpetually screaming twin sisters are selfish and evil and, when on the field, keeps his mental calm and focus by imagining that he’s surrounded by giant fluffy puppies. After his big shot at the World Cup goes sour and his immense fortune is endangered, he falls into a depression that isn’t relieved until he discovers the existence of people called “refugees” and decides to help them. Announcing to the world that he would like to adopt a “fugee”, he is thrilled when a young man from Africa named Rahim shows up at his house and he instantly falls into the role of loving father; what Diamantino doesn’t know is that Rahim is actually Aisha, a woman whose girlfriend is a cop who is investigating our hapless protagonist for money laundering. Meanwhile his sisters, determined to keep the money flowing in, sell his DNA to a scientific lab that wants to clone him and his impressive athletic abilities, and as Rahim/Aisha gets to know and genuinely feel affection for the overgrown child that has “adopted” her, she begins to suspect that his sweet nature is being taken advantage of by the selfish people he is surrounded by. Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s colourful, sometimes campy satire is populated with delightfully odd images (like the aforementioned giant puppies) that could easily see this film developing a major cult following in the future, though it won’t satisfy all who dare follow its bizarre narrative path. Once you get to the last third, in which the genetic experiments that Diamantino is being subjected to start having a curious effect on his physical appearance, it’s hard to understand what exactly is being satirized: the film brings up issues of the migrant crisis, current anxieties over gender identity and morality in economics, but then gives very little payoff for a film that involves mad scientists and such incredibly vicious villains. Even if you aren’t entertained by it, though, you don’t feel lectured by it either, so watch it if you enjoy something unusual or just want to stare at the very handsome Cotta’s buff physique.