Placido (1961)

  |  Comedy, Drama

Placido (1961) Poster

In a small spanish town, a group of old ladies decide to celebrate Christmas Eve with a "Sit a poor man at your table" dinner: each wealthy household of the town will have a homeless person... See full summary »


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21 June 2020 | quaseprovisorio
| yes it's a great social critque without a doubt. but it's also one of the best comedies i've ever seen.
My grandmom is 90 years old now. when she was giving presents for christmas she wanted always to give gifts to a lot of people beyond the close family. for example to people from the portuguese village where she lived with my grandfather and my father for a lot of years (even though she wasn't born there she lived there a long time). Usually the gifts for those people were merely things that could be bought for one or two euros. I used to ask her: "why do you buy those gifts, there just cheap stuff they don't care and need". the answer used to be something like this: "poor them they wouldn't know, for them is very big already!" - a table cloth for two euros is not important for anyone sorry. at the end of the day it was never about giving them gifts. but it was because plus they already had that for other christmases. she wanted to feel better with herself thinking how good of a person she was. she still thinks now a days she's humble and a one of the most generous people in the globe: i can't complain, but i would tell you that i always doubt that.

"placido" is pretty much a film about that: high or middle high class people receiving poor citizens in their homes for christmas eve. they don't like them, they don't want them, they treat better their dogs than them. one getting a cold, a disease or getting drunk is a tragedy: not because someone got a disease but because that could expose the facade they built: the idea they're very generous and humble and everyone will go to heaven because of that.

it's never from the heart. it's never from good intentions with this film. it's always for other people to see how good they are. my grandmom did this in a smaller scale true: but this is a exaggeration of reality. the ideia you'll have a parade in the middle of the cold where poor people can get sick, but they're there to applaud stars from madrid beause they need to please the event organizers is the beggining of this crazy journey where placido just wants to pay the installment of his motorbike.

so yeah it's always about the organizers policing each other, checking if everyone "is good". is kinda a foucalt's panopticon of charity: eveyone check if everyone is doing the good, is having a poor peasant in their house. the peasants: they can even die that the tragedy is always for the people who hold them for the night. they're just props, they're pawns not people. they're instruments that make the others not only feel better but mostly feel they won't be judged by anyone else. poor people as instruments to control the high class, to make them feel good about themselves even if at the end of the dinner they go back to their cold houses or even the street.

what happens inside the doors is a different story. and berlanga shows this as a master: the scenes are always vivid, full of people talking, they're quick and witty, don't let anyone breathe. i laughed my ass off a lot of the time just seing the absurd and relating to this, because in portugal things weren't that different. heck in some places you'll probably still find people like this. arrested development, the tv show, was a bit like this on the best of its times: people just talking above each other, fully of different type of conversations happening at the same time. sometimes we have three conversarions or four in the same scene.

the events taking place are one more ludicrous than the other. they just continue to mount, and placido's problem just grows and grows and grows because people are so worried in their own bubbles to feel themselves better than they couldn't care less when a low class citizen as a problem. the hypocrisy of a society that wanted allways to appear good, not to be good. poors are just the losers they feel they need to help because they might be criticized if they don't. but at the end of the day is more important to sell cooking pots, to marry people "living in sin" and to feed your dog.

at the end of the day this is a great rich comedy that wants to criticize spanish society. it works on both sides. but even if you have zero context about this, it's still a work of genious. like arrested development. it's a great film, one of the best comedies i've ever seen. after enjoying a lot bienvenido mr marshall, watching placido makes me really think berlanga is a genious. the comedy tone is perfect. the criticism also. it has minor problems? yes. but it's so well made and conceived that laughing out loud and applauding is the only thing i can do. if you know or understand a bit of spanish watch this by any means necessary. if you don', you'll have more problems on understanding it too... it's an amazing movie.

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