Thursday 23 October 2014

As Bodas de Deus (Spousals of God) [1999]

Monteiro’s provocative, personal and thoroughly brilliant ‘Comedy of Deus’ trilogy was brought to a marvelous closure with As Bodas de Deus. Even if it didn’t have the underlying personal melancholia of Recollections of the Yellow House or the gleeful perversity of A Comedia de Deus, in terms of sheer thematic scope and audacity, this was possibly the most ambitious of the lot. Joao de Deus (Monteiro), now a banished, broken and discarded sad old man post his disturbing meltdown with which the previous film ended, is eating a frugal lunch at a secluded park by the river when he’s visited by a mysterious man who identifies himself as a messenger of god and gifts him bags stashed with cash. And thus begins a strange journey, that smacks of déjà vu for those who’re familiar with the trilogy, wherein he reaches a stage of comfort and respectability – in this case someone for whom both luck and money are squarely on his side – only to once again touch nadir when fortune suddenly quits on him. Two parallel narrative strands played out – in an act of blind generosity, he saves a cherubic girl, installs her at a convent, and does acts of charity there even though he’s anything but a believer; meanwhile he makes the acquaintance of a wealthy Arab prince with whom he engages in an all-night game of high-stake poker, only to win everything that the suave gambling addict possesses, including his saucy and seductive wife in the final round. The film’s bone-dry humour, leisurely pacing and visual richness – it was dazzlingly photographed using exquisite single takes – provided the perfect accompaniment to its biting irreverence towards religion, authority and morality, and its deftly meditative tone.

Director: Joao Cesar Monteiro
Genre: Drama/Black Comedy/Religious Satire
Language: Portuguese
Country: Portugal

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