Authentic crime story set in the backstreets of Lisbon strives for a brash realism, using local actors and improvised dialogue. A small-time criminal threatens to become the victim of a power struggle within a gang when he is identified as the perpetrator of a murder.
Reboleira, the poor suburb of Lisbon that once formed the backdrop to Basil da Cunha’s two short films Nuvem (Sunfish) and Os vivos também choram (The Living Also Cry), is again the set for this powerful feature debut. Unlike colleague director Pedro Costa, who also situated his stories in a suburb of Lisbon, Da Cunha tells his story more in the style of the classic film noir – with a bare crime story and narrow corridors and small rooms where it always seems to be night.
Just after he is released from jail, Sombra returns to his old neighbourhood. In a couple of days, he ends up back in a completely impossible situation when he can’t pay back a loan from a local drug dealer. All he can do is flee. But where to? After all, his enemies are everywhere.
Da Cunha focuses on the couleur locale, as is apparent from the minor and informal asides about religion and tradition. But it can primarily be heard in the dialogues, which he let the non-professional actors write themselves.
Certificate: 15 Distributor: Capricci Films
Dir. Basil da Cunha, Switzerland, 2013, 99 min
Cast: Ana Clara Baptista de Melo Soares Barros, Susana Maria Mendes da Costa, José Zeferino da Cruz