The Invisible Life – Film Review

Portuguese writer-director Vítor Gonçalves returns with his first film in 27 years

Fans of the writer-director Vítor Gonçalves have learned to be patient. The 64-year-old’s 1986 debut, A Girl In Summer, was hailed as a landmark of Portuguese cinema, but this is his first film for 27 years. There is no sense of him making up for lost time by overloading the narrative or rushing through fast cuts: this study of the emotionally paralysed life led by Hugo (Filipe Duarte) unfolds in enigmatic long shots down empty corridors and in darkened rooms, but is let down by creeping pace and a lack of action. As Hugo struggles to relate to his ailing workmate Antonio (João Perry) and ex-girlfriend Adriana (Maria João Pinho), Gonçalves intersperses Super 8 footage of sunsets, mountains and seascapes. The loneliness is contagious, the isolation chilly.

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