Antonio One Two Three: António’s sleepless nights
by Roberto Oggiano
- The feature debut by Leonardo Mouramateus is taking part in the International Film Festival Rotterdam, within the Bright Future section
Much like his eminent predecessors Visconti and Bresson, young Brazilian director Leonardo Mouramateus has chosen to adapt the short story White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky for his feature debut, Antonio One Two Three [+see also:
film profile], which has just been presented in the Bright Future section of the 45th International Film Festival Rotterdam.
While this is a somewhat loose adaptation, it is just as rigorous stylistically, and after the original’s setting of Saint Petersburg, Visconti’s Venice and Bresson’s Paris, this version is set against the backdrop of Lisbon. What initially seems like a banal, mushy comedy blossoms into an accomplished, entertaining work in which metanarrative language comes to the fore and ends up constituting the backbone of the entire film. The daydreamer in question is called António (Mauro Soares), and we follow him as he wanders around in search of fantasies, passions and romantic mirages that take the form of Deborah, a beautiful, green-eyed Brazilian girl, played by actress and director Deborah Viegas.
The elaborate and inventive editing steers clear of a gimmicky narrative divided into sections. Whilst enduring mixed fortunes, the main characters in the film maintain the levity necessary for depicting a dream, which is less fleeting than the tragic fate of the character created by the Russian author. It could be claimed that the film revolves around metalanguage: it portrays the origins of a stage play that evolves alongside the role of the protagonists, who are, in turn, actors, authors and viewers, lovers or loved ones, representatives or the represented.
In this ambitious – but by no means pretentious – work, Mouramateus excels at not resorting to recurring pathos (which is usually wrongly referred to as “theatricality”) both in his attempts to depict the theatre of the absurd on the silver screen and when the actors address the audience directly, staring straight into the lens. The same applies when we see Lisbon: there are no picture-postcard vistas or advertisements for the city, but rather we hover above the city and observe subtle and light-hearted hints of its characters' economic insecurity. Both the comical and the more reflective sections are measured to perfection, thus lending the film a playful nature.
To sum up, this is a strong movie: the pleasing, dreamlike narrative of Antonio One Two Three follows closely in the footsteps of Miguel Gomes' masterpiece Arabian Nights [+see also:
interview: Miguel Gomes
film profile], which was also split into three parts; did someone say new cinema spoke Portuguese?
(Translated from Italian)
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