the last hours of a district of Lisbon undermined by jealousies


Basil da Cunha: the name of the Swiss filmmaker, of Portuguese origin, appeared like a comet in the sky of the Croisette, in 2013, with a first feature film at the Directors’ Fortnight, immersed in the starry darkness of a lisbon ghetto, Até Ver a Luz (After the night). Born in 1985, the director found the texture of his films in the Reboleira district, like Pedro Costa previously in Fontainhas (In Vanda’s room, in 2000, Forward youth, in 2006…).

If the writings are not the same, the two filmmakers share the same taste for the time spent with the characters, the attention to the word as cement of the community, and the aesthetic research conferring all its splendor on the characters at the margin – society and cinema.

In Reboleira, Basil da Cunha found his “godfathers”, weaving the material of his dark and nihilistic thrillers, more than explosive. His second feature film, O Fim do Mundo, opens with a baptism in a church, and grabs us with its close-ups on the faces and its device cutting the sound of the conversations, installing the dramaturgy and giving all the space to the liturgical music. The party, and its desiring bodies, operates like a parenthesis between the settling of accounts, in a territory undermined by jealousies and clan conflicts, already threatened by the noise of diggers.

Tense arc of coldness

The hero, Spira (Michel Spencer), a silent twenties, finds the neighborhood after eight years spent in a house of correction. His best buddies, Giovanni (Marco Joel Fernandes) and Chandi (Alexandre da Costa Fonseca), have learned to survive trafficking: Spira does not want to “dive back” and the film deploys a tense arc of coldness, keeping the young man at a safe distance and the bandits of the community – the neighborhood godfather, Kikas (Carlos Fonseca), makes it clear to him that he is not welcome. In a corner of her head, Spira also dreams of happiness and love with a girl her age who is already a mother, Iara (Iara Cardoso).

The tragedy arises from everyday gestures, and from the image produced by the director.

From history, we do not need to know more. You have to let yourself be drawn into this micro-narrative which does not tick the boxes of the gangster film and does not fire any firearms. The village hen interests the filmmaker as much, as well as the hair dryer which makes it possible to harden the bar of drugs, for more effect on the customers.

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