Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Colo (Villaverde, 2017): Portugal

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Colo, a new film by Alce Films from Writer/Director Teresa Villaverde was screened at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Competition. The film utilized an unorthodox approach. After the opening scene of over-the-sholuder close-ups and Hollywood style medium close-ups on reverse angles, deep focus long-shots were utilized. Often times the frame pulled out rather than pushing in – a more typical filmmaking technique.

The narrative focuses on a family in the midst of economic crisis. The father, played by João Pedro Vaz, has lost. not only his job, but his strength and fortitude to continue looking for work. Instead, he escapes to the apartment dwelling rooftop to look wistfully upon the horizon. The mother, played by Beatriz Batarda, works two jobs with little time for her daughter or husband. It’s not a lack of caring. Rather, it’s a lack of life force energy. Alice Albergaria Borges portrays the daughter. She’s of high school age and is experiencing all the typical changes and social issues inherent within. Only, her issues seem magnified. Until the camera pulls out revealing stunning, picturesque mise-en-scene.

Consequently, the emotionality of the film revealed little intimacy while the overall feeling was one of benevolence. Low-key lighting and shadows added to the film’s mystique. I can’t say this was one of my favorite films. I imagine it was considered for the Silver Bear for New Perspectives in filmmaking.

Nevertheless, the film showcased the natural beauty of the Romanian countryside and allowed for character development without delving deeply into the emotional states via camera framing.

Unfortunately, by the film’s end the benevolent feeling I had felt throughout the film was gone and the film seemingly was wanting a redo. Not recommended at this time. However, with minor tweaks, I predict the film will be visible on this year’s festival circuit and will eventually have a successful theatrical run. It may be arthouse. It may be grindhouse. Or it may be avant-garde. Stay tuned for more. Until then, I’ll see you at the cineam!

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