Virados do Avesso: Edgar Pêra, the commercial version
by Vitor Pinto
- Diogo Morgado stars in experimental director Edgar Pêra's first commercial film
In the small and bold kingdom of Portuguese cinema, a talented Portuguese director, after building up his reputation with various experimental and iconoclastic movies, has unexpectedly plunged into mainstream. The director is Edgar Pêra and the mainstream, in this case, is a potential blockbuster comedy – a popcorn product for a very undemanding audience, like so many other films that have spread like wildfire in the last decade in Portugal. This week it's Virados do Avesso [+see also:
film profile]'s (lit. "Turned Inside Out") turn.
Starring Diogo Morgado – who became famous last year in the US as the “hot Jesus” of the series The Bible – this co-production between Cinecool and Cinemate doesn't at any point aim to be taken seriously. However, its self-awareness and the resulting choice of a comic tone are not enough to achieve its basic goal: to entertain the audience.
Morgado is João, a writer who one day wakes up suffering from a bout of selective amnesia: he can't remember that he's gay. So he decides to reject his partner of five years (Jorge Corrula) and he plunges into a new, unexpectedly hetero life. But, as the saying goes, it never rains but it pours: João also has a creative block, and is incapable of finishing his latest novel. Isabel (Diana Monteiro), his rival in the literary world, is suffering from a similar case of writer's block. After a night spent together, Isabel steals João's novel and tries to publish it as her own.
The incredible part of the story might not be funny but it wouldn't upset if it wasn't for the avalanche of clichés about the various characters' sexual orientations. The comic tone of the script certainly exacerbates the performances, but it can't justify everything. The gays are extremely gay, in the effeminate, extravagant and old-fashioned sense of the term, and the heterosexuals can't tell the difference between virility and explosive testosterone. The female characters too are unfortunate stereotypes: the secretary is a kind of nymphomaniac, there's the Bourgeois trifling sister and the sexy and dangerous writer...
Nevertheless, this launch into mainstream by Edgar Pêra surprises. And it's because officially, Virados do Avesso maintains traces of the director's style, in the movies that he "wrote" as well as directed. For instance: the acceleration of images, the dynamic production and his use of sound devices as a filler for comic effect, but without the peppy and iconoclastic momentum of some of his other works, like the unforgettable Maryalva Mix (2001).
In a more conceptual and infinitely more interesting context, Pêra was this year in Locarno with Lisbon Revisited [+see also:
film profile]. The movie was screened afterwards at DocLisboa but has not, at present, got a date for its commercial release. Virados do Avesso is distributed by Nos Lusomundo Audivisuais, that also distributed the most successful Portuguese movies of 2014: The Maias [+see also:
film profile] (read more), Os Gatos Não Têm Vertigens [+see also:
film profile] (read more) and Sei Lá [+see also:
film profile] (read more).
(Translated from Spanish)