17 October 2015 | Sergeant_Tibbs
Underwhelming compared to Volume 1.
While I was enthralled with Arabian Nights' Volume 1, unfortunately the spark is lost for Volume 2, which is Portugal's submission for the Oscar in Best Foreign Language Film, but despite the trilogy's acclaim, it feels like a long shot if they're truly vying with this one. Anyone watching it as a standalone feature will struggle to go with its flow, and anyone who didn't like Volume 1 will be hard pressed to have their minds change. Its biggest problem is that the first two vignettes are tedious, void of the potency of Volume 1. One we follow an old man off-the-grid evading police, and another is a surreal courtroom sequence where we vaguely learn the hypocrisies of the system how everyone is guilty of some kind of criminal act. Considering the concept of the film is that we have a string of stories that are supposed to hook you in so much that you want to hear how they end, these two do not live up to those expectations.
Inspiration seemed to be drained at the halfway mark. It's redeemed enough by the final tale, though it's still one of the weaker vignettes across the three films. It justifies the quiet restraint of Volume 2, which is perhaps why Portugal felt it would be more digestible to the Academy, though this one is still a little too loose. At the very least, it connects it back to the hardships of the everyday people as a lovely stray dog is passed around a tower block until each owner can no longer afford to look after it. Gomes employs more flourish that he had on full throttle for the first volume, with a Wes Anderson-esque tour of the block and its residents, finally bringing this volume back to life. Perhaps Gomes had a realisation about the repetition of the structure of Volumes 1 and 2, despite those early surprises, as Volume 3 takes things in a different direction.
See the other volumes for the rest of my review for Arabian Nights.
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