Casa de Lava (1994)

24 03 2008

At the risk of sounding trendy, cliche, and stupid, it seems like Pedro Costa has become the recent film festival favorite. This is my first encounter with his work and I’m quite impressed, but also befuddled. The later brought on more by intial reaction to the film than the film itself. It’s a minimalistic (cliche count: 2 now) but also romantic film reminiscent of Herzog, Tarkovsky, and (as a result) Carlos Reygadas. Yet, the actually viewing experience was pretty unique. There’s a heavy, ponderous feeling but the film moves along so viscerally almost like some bizarre hallucination. My restless state probably helped out a lot but still, this is pretty crazy. At the moment, no clear cut decision has been made.

Leao, a construction worker, falls into a coma which leds him to Mariana, a worker at the hospital in which he has been placed. He is discharged and forced to go back to Cape Verde, but he is still unconscious so Mariana tags along. Unfortunately, no one is there for his return and Mariana is forced to find her way around town. Eventually she stumbles upon the hospital and afterwards, she wanders around town meeting a wide variety of characters. Leao awakens and in spite of many obstacles, the two try to start a relationship.

The film’s opening sequence is absolutely stunning. Droned out humming accompanies footage of volcanoes errupted, which is then followed by a close-up of many faces. Simple and perhaps pretentious on paper, it’s an absolutely perfect introduction into the Costa’s world. The rest doesn’t quite live up to this great sequence and it does sort of drag at some points. I mean, after all, the main character is comatose for the first half of the movie! That said, this is really quite an impressive film and it’s probable that Costa has improved upon it. Plus, I’m sure another viewing of this is needed if only to clear up my head. For now, it’s a technically proficient odd romance that definitely fits my cinematic ideal.

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2 responses

9 06 2008
Frank P.

Great website, i really like it. keep up good job.

9 06 2008
Jake Savage

Thanks.

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