A Comédia de Deus, the dryly comic and delectably perverse second chapter in Monteiro’s ambitious, fabulously staged, and quietly personal ‘Comedy of Deus trilogy’, was thematically the most audacious of the lot in the way it pushed the boundaries of everyday morality. The title provided a cheeky interplay between the curiously named protagonist and a deliriously cosmic sense of humour that had its beginning in Recollections of the Yellow House and was further upped in As Bodas de Deus. Taking off where the last film ended, Joao de Deus is now employed as the manager of an ice-cream parlour in Lisbon courtesy the shop owner’s philanthropy. He’s become renowned for his closely guarded recipe, the profundity with which he trains the girls employed in the establishment for serving the customers, and his obsession with personal hygiene; off-work, he’s possibly the world’s greatest collector of a certain specimen that no one would ever think of inculcating as a hobby. During the course of his employment, this ageing, soft-spoken, kindly, lonely and glibly eccentric man charms a new recruit at the parlour into a tender relationship which traverses across various paradigms ranging from teacher-student to lovers. However, his fragile social order goes for a nose-dive when his barely managed self-control experiences a deeply disconcerting meltdown as he decides to seduce the pubescent daughter of the local butcher, leading to nasty consequences. The leisurely pace, aesthetics, exquisite single-takes and idiosyncratic tone were complemented by the film’s meticulous texture, degenerate world view, risque storyline and delightful sensuousness. The hilarious dance gig of the neurotic Joao as he, purportedly, teaches his fiancée to swim, made for an utterly memorable sequence and perfectly captured the film’s irreverent essence.
Director: Joao Cesar Monteiro
Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire