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Venice Film Review: ‘The Domain’

Venice Film Review: ‘The Domain’

The opening of “The Domain” is a classic mid-length widescreen shot of a solitary tree silhouetted against the sky. The camera slowly pans left to reveal a second tree, with a man hanging from a branch. This too feels fairly familiar, if disturbing, and one watches imagining that director Tiago Guedes is using such archetypal images to then play with the form, or do something unusual with the subsequent nearly three-hour running time. Instead, his sprawling family epic spanning from 1946 to 1991 largely shifts from the derivative to the banal. Designed like a meaty novel in which Portugal’s political fortunes impact a privileged family of landowners,

Guedes (“Noise”) points to Westerns and some melodramas like Vincente Minnelli’s “Home From the Hill” as major influences, which demonstrably act as templates with added political overtones. Certainly the way the tug-of-war between dictatorship, revolution and capitalism batters the independent-minded Fernandes family does

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