Unanimous winner of Locarno 2019’s Golden Leopard and declared by jury president Catherine Breillat as a film that “will enter the heritage of world cinema”, Pedro Costa’s latest work is a hypnotic exploration of grief and displacement.
“There is nothing for you in Portugal.” Cape Verdean woman Vitalina Varela has come to Lisbon to confront the husband who abandoned her for the colonial motherland decades before. But Vitalina is too late – her husband is dead, leaving her with only a dilapidated house filled with signifiers of the life he led without her.
After first appearing in Costa’s acclaimed Horse Money (MIFF 2015), Varela plays a version of herself and gives a monumental rendition of patience and resilience that garnered Locarno’s Best Actress award. Pairing his actor’s performances with stunning cinematography that takes inspiration from American silent film and Baroque painting, Costa conjures memories and funnels them through the great prism of cinema history, giving a platform to those largely ignored by that same history. Through Vitalina Varela, Varela’s past comes alive and becomes a vital expression of our present, and future.
“A breathtakingly gorgeous movie about love, death and immigration.” – RogerEbert.com