Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto (Our Beloved Month of August)

I found this exercise in filmmaking interesting as the mixing of fiction narrative and documentary is quite well done here. Still I find the movie is too long with too many scenes that probably would have been better if the director left them in the editing room. But what most called my attention was the outstanding integration of popular Portuguese songs in the narrative that I find as the main connection link between doc and fiction, as lyrics totally move forward the blurred real/fiction story.

This Miguel Gomes film tells about one summer month in those villages that become alive for summer time when city dwellers, locals, tourists and temporary returning Portuguese emigrants blend together escaping the heat. The doc part follows the crew dealing with all the “problems” with the making of a film called: Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto! So, some claim that is like the Making Of but I believe that is more than that, as is obvious that some scenes are fiction. Also the doc introduces us to the lives of some locals. The fiction narrative is a summer romance between a younger man and woman with no one in their family approving them being together; a romance that while touches many conventional grounds, still manages to be very unconventional. Then the main vehicle to blur fiction and reality are the popular bands that play in the town plaza during those hot summer nights.

Think that this film is hard to explain what’s all about, but while watching is really easy to follow everything that’s happening even when you are not familiar with the Portuguese humor and particularities of their lifestyle nuances. Then perhaps is only me but the film made me remember some hot summer nights that I spent in Spain, as I found the situations and especially the “spice” quite similar.

To me the total style of the film as a movie is more the style of a documentary than a narrative, which is not bad; but on the not so good side definitively helps to feel the film too lengthy. Perhaps if the filmmaker mixed the styles the film length would have not been an issue.

The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes at the Quinzaine section and went to the fest circuit where collected 12 awards including the Best Film at 2009 BAFICI, Special Jury Award at 2009 Guadalajara fest and FIPRESCI Prize at the 2008 Viennale in Vienna, Austria.

Definitively not your usual film but is one that I do recommend if you want to see one great example of blending the documentary and narrative styles. For one special reader I have to comment that this film is a must be seen for those that want to familiarize themselves with the Portuguese idiosyncrasy and enjoy their popular music and culture.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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