Saturday 13 December 2014

Vai e Vem (Come and Go) [2003]

Vai e Vem marked the culmination of aesthetics, politics, philosophy and well, audacity, of Portuguese “poet-provocateur” João César Monteiro who died shortly after completing the film. Made in the same vein as his masterful ‘Comedy of Deus (God)’ trilogy, this too was a rambling, languorous, idiosyncratic, whimsical, meditative, unapologetically confounding and deeply personal work, and had him playing the title role of Joao Vuvu (even though he was afflicted with cancer during its making), an ageing, soft-spoken, neurotic, amoral and libidinous character who’s simultaneously a philosopher and a prankster. The widowed man, whose son is in prison on charges of armed robbery and murder, leads a solitary existence in his sparse apartment in Lisbon surrounded with his huge stack of books. The film, which regularly alternated between deadpan satire, cheeky black comedy and full-blown surrealism, has him traveling in a city bus to particularly nowhere, recruiting a young lady for cleaning his apartment, reciting a baffling poem to a police-woman, having a difference of opinion with his prodigal son only to then push him into the river, being grievously injured by a giant phallus, and finally, as a ghost, brazenly disobeying the diktats of the priest performing rituals at his death – an unforgettable and gleeful invocation of his own fast-approaching demise. The wry tone was aptly complemented by the static, single-take sequences, soft lighting and lilting score – aspects that made the more outrageous moments, bizarre turn of events and mordant wit all the more hilarious and memorable in their irreverence and bravado. The afore-mentioned trilogy (Recollections of the Yellow House, A Comédia de Deus and As Bodas de Deus) is strongly recommended before venturing into this quirky summation of Monteiro’s life and career.

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

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