Monday, March 26, 2007

Review: Body Rice directed by Hugo Vieira da Silva

Portuguese filmmaker Hugo Vieira da Silva makes a bold transition from doc shorts to "Body Rice," a debut feature that skirts the edges of narrative and palpably conveys the drift and anomie of young Germans sent to an "alternative" community in southern Portugal. Local January opening spawned a public debate over the pic, and wide fest embrace (including prizes in Locarno and Mexico City) will lead to further notoriety and possible arthouse distrib buys.

Vieira da Silva smoothly joins the esteemed company of other young Iberoamerican helmers like Lisandro Alonso ("Los Muertos"), Albert Serra ("Honor de Cavalleria") and Paz Encina ("Paraguayan Hammock"), interested more in image and sound than psychology and dramatics.

Cast of pro German and Portuguese thesps is asked to work largely without words -- the nearly two-hour film contains less than 10 minutes of spoken dialogue, much of that in brief fragments -- and let their bodies do the talking. But the intensely observant manner in which the final results are put onscreen commands similarly intense involvement from viewers primed for a kind of "silent" cinema with sound.
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