Top Bar
Musique Machine Logo Home ButtonReviews ButtonArticles ButtonBand Specials ButtonAbout Us Button
SearchGo Down
Search for  
With search mode in section(s)
And sort the results by
show articles written by  
 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Vitalina Varela - Vitalina Varela(Blu Ray) [Second Slight - 2020]

Vitalina Varela is a 2019 arthouse film that ushers us into a universe of shadows, half-light, and darkness where it plays solemn & mysterious drama, thatís edged with metaphysical horror and grim gothic torches. Itís a film where real and non-real bound and at times blur, and where time itís self seems to drift and at points almost grind to a halt. Here from Second Slight is a recent region free Blu Ray of the film, taking in some worthy extras and an inlay booklet.

Vitalina Varela is the 7th feature-length film from Lisbon based writer/director Pedro Costa- he started his film career back in the late 1980s, with his first film being 1989ís Blood- a seemingly glumly dream-like monochrome mystery drama. Since then he has carved out a distinctive filmography of slow & often grimly minimalist work- and Vitalina Varela very much follows the trend.  The whole film is staged at such a slow & brooding pace, with the small cast giving well observer but extremely nuanced performances. So you have to be ready for a deliberately paced arthouse film that is dark both visually & theme wise- but if you are then youíll find a masterful creation thatís full of lulling wonder, slowly revealing mystery, and moments where seeming the dead and alive meet- yet never in a clichťd horror way.

The film is based in and around a refugee shantytown in Lisbon- and it finds an unnamed woman(Vitalina Varela) travelling from her homeland of Cape Verdean to Lisbon after her estranged husband has died.  The two hour and four-minute film has a small & compact cast, who play out the very slow unfold drama in the grim, claustrophobic, and at times downright creepy ghetto.

Aside from the environment heard music the film is score-less, with instead the distant sound of neighbours, animals, and slow hiss of gaslight been its minimal soundtrack. The actors seemingly slowly drift around, or lurk in the murky half-light of the ghetto- at points; I thought I was looking at a well-captured photograph of an actor, then they sudden move. The film creates itís own dark & shadowy universe, that really is unlike anything else Iíve seen before- and from time-to-time, you get moments of grim & spellbinding wonder. For example, we get a scene where characters seem to merge & blur into inner-city scrubland, or where we see figures trolling down a tunnel in the darkness that seemingly webbed with thin & jagged spider web like a light. The whole thing opens in a wonderful gloomy gothic manner, with a barely lit wall with stone crosses above it & figures slowly appearing in the foreground. Itís certainly a film you have to let your self slow down to, and get submerged in its slow-moving & gloomy world- but if you do youíll find many moments grim wonder and sombre contemplation.

Moving onto the Blu Ray its self- and we get a wonderfully high definition print, where the largely shadowy and dark presentation of the film is crisp & balanced in its colour balance & artful mix of light and shadow. and the films subtitles are easily read & clear though-out. Moving onto the extras on the disc- and we get a one hour & eighteen-minute interview with the director carried out at the ICA in London where the film played in March of this year- this is most insightful & fascinating as he talks about the films shooting processes that took around nine months, the collaboration with lead actress Vitalina Varela- who in reality lost her husband and wasnít able to attend his funeral, the crew set up, and of course comments of the film's themes- if you enjoyed the film you must check this interview out. Next, we get a twelve-minute short film charting the director's installation at the Serravals museum in Porto, and an around four-minute introduction to film by critic and author Chris Fujiwara. The release is finished off by a glossy twenty-four-page inlay booklet- this is largely made up with an interview with the director discussing the film, and again is most worthy.

Vitalina Varela is very much a film that enchanted and captivated me with itís takes on death ,mourning and isolation- visually the film is fairly unique & distinctive with its use of shadow & lack of light, and the performances throughout are wonderful reserved-yet- at the same time emotionally felt. Yet another wonderful film and presentation from Second Run- who are rapidly become one of my favourite labels around.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
Latest Reviews

Vitalina Varela - Vitalina Varela...
Vitalina Varela is a 2019 arthouse film that ushers us into a universe of shadows, half-light, and darkness where it plays solemn & mysterious drama, tha...
231020   mHz - Function
231020   Grave Robbers - Grave Robbers...
221020   Ghost Hunting - Ghost Hunting...
211020   Grey Smoke - The Great City ...
211020   PTRKLLR - Boreal
211020   Eve - Eve(Blu Ray)
201020   Warning From Space - Warning ...
201020   Various Artists - Living On T...
201020   SAD - Misty Breath of Ancient...
191020   Kadaver - The Man Who Didn't ...
Latest Articles

James Shearman - London Walling
Londoner James Shearman has been one of the most active & present figures in the UK/ Euro wall noise scene for some years now- releasing walled noise/ st...
151020   James Shearman - London Walling
220920   The Lux & Ivy Compilations In...
250820   Paige Davis, Michael Raso & L...
220720   The Residents - Old Dogís Sti...
200720   Jimmy McDonough - The Milliga...
300620   Perpetual Abjection & Unsign...
150620   William Fowler & Vic Pratt - ...
280520   Melaine Dalibert - Quietly cr...
150520   Barry "Schwump" Schwam - Frog...
300420   Nico Mastorakis - The Greek s...
Go Up
(c) Musique Machine 2001 -2017. Celebrating 16 years of true independence!! Mail Us at questions=at=musiquemachine=dot=comBottom