12 June 2017 | filipemanuelneto
Bearable, but far from being a good movie.
By rule, I don't like contemporary Portuguese cinema. I am a patriot, but I recognize the weaknesses of my country and this is one of them. Usually, today Portuguese cinema oscillates between the exacerbated elitism of author/experimental films, which require a PhD in Philosophy or Sociology to be understandable, and the unbearable mix of sex and profanity provided by popular/commercial films. People always laugh when a character gives us a lot of profanity in an allegedly comic scene, but such "comedies" have never been to my liking. For all this, it was with a mixture of interest and precaution that I decided to watch this film, directed by Vicente Alves do Ó. And it was with a sigh of relief that, in the end, I concluded that it was bearable, not brilliant nor properly mediocre.
This biographical film seeks to tell the life of the famous Portuguese poet Florbela Espanca, one of the most notable names in Portuguese literature of the first half of the 20th century. Focusing essentially on the poet's connection to her late husband and her brother, Apeles Espanca, the film portrays Florbela as a young woman who has never been able to fit into what society expected of her. The film is able to show well the connection between the two brothers and the way she is devastated by his tragic death. Its also evident the rebellious and somewhat discontented spirit that moves her, and which seems to turn all her marriages into an invariable succession of failures. However, the film seems to ignore one of her biggest problems: depression and neurotic crisis, which accounts for much of her emotional instability. Another problem I noticed was the implicit criticism of the country's delay and pacing, compared to the cosmopolitan and vicious capital, Lisbon, a city that has always lived at the expense of the country of which its capital. But the worst part of the film is to see the poetess having sex with a stranger on a corner, as if she were a slut, in the most pitiful and deplorable scene. To confuse freedom with lust and levity is a mistake, its to tarnish the memory of this poetess. Honestly, will it be so difficult to make a Portuguese film today without unfortunate sex scenes, thought not for the beauty of the film, but to increase the potential interest of the audience who buys the ticket?