Juventude Em Marcha (2006)

13 05 2010

While I can certainly see and understand why this film has received such a dedicated following, I can’t buy into the idea that it’s a complete masterpiece or anything. I like Pedro Costa a lot and consider Ossos a near-perfect film, but I guess his inventiveness gets the best of him here. The former film is definitely unique though it can be filed away in the slow-burning minimalist folder that houses Tsai Ming-Liang, Jia Zhang-ke, and everyone else of that ilk. This film still maintains the element of long static shots but it’s less exotic looking (shot on digital?) and a lot more dialogue-driven than the rest of the group.

Apparently, this film is something of a fusion between narrative filmmaking and documentary filmmaking, but this doesn’t supply the “self-conscious” wall-breaker that similarly described films might. This is not the meta fodder of Godard’s latter period, but just a film, staged by beautiful static shots featuring people talking. That’s really all it is, and for what it is, it’s pretty amazing. The idea of a displaced individual wandering around ruined landscapes and reuniting with his children is nice and easy to watch, at least for me, but the problems come when too many of the sequences depend on characters describing these extremely long stories that leaves it up to us to imagine the situations.

I can’t knock Costa for simply photographing people talking (not to mention doing so without moving the camera) because that’s essentially what he set out to do, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that some of the stories the characters tell are either too boring to worry about or are semi-fascinating and then run of momentum because of length. It’s probably worth mentioning that there’s not much energy or spontaneity in their dialect, but again, this is not a false or an oversight. Bresson comparisons are boring because every critic uses him as a stand-by but the de-familiarization of character movement, along with the deconstruction of surrounding images definitely gives off that feel. I’m reminded of The Devil, Probably in particular.

Ultimately, this is film I like a lot but it doesn’t seem to carry itself for an entire two and half hours. I seldom feel impatient with Costa (those others might feel differently) but there are times when I’m about to ready to “move on” even though you have to anticipate such movement is going to be deliberately minuscule. Basically, I think this movie is very interesting and a very personal for Costa, but I suppose it doesn’t work as much for me as his more polished work, particularly Ossos, but I can definitely appreciate it on a similar wavelength.



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