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78 minutes · 2013
Similar to Miguel Gomes's Tabu, this eccentric drama uses black-and-white cinematography and an opaque, deeply symbolic narrative to contemplate Portugal's history of imperialism in Africa. A native of Guinea-Bissau, returning home from Europe for his daughter's wedding, is haunted by memories of the African country's war with Portugal. The film's intriguingly elusive first half recalls the visual style of Jean-Luc Godard and the affectless characterizations of early Jim Jarmusch; when tragedy befalls the characters, the tone veers toward magical realism as the country's spiritual heritage begins to penetrate the contemporary setting. Director João Viana deftly handles the story's allegory, ensuring the film's poetic qualities without underplaying its sociopolitical themes. The overall effect is that of a fable anchored by history. In Mandinka with subtitles.

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