[Movie Review] Diamantino (2018)

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Portugal, France, Brazil | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi | 15+ | Directors: Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt | Writers: Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt | Cast: Carloto Cotta, Cleo Tavares, Anabela Moreira, Margarida Moreira, Maria Leite | Portuguese | 92 minutes


An invention doesn't have to be accepted by all. A clever invention is the one that could generate interests, luring people to talk about it and that is exactly what happened with 'Diamantino'. In this modern age of cinema, a wholly original idea is a sought-after commodity. Yes, we have a decent chunk of great movies in the last few years, but not many could be claimed as conceptually fresh. 'Diamantino' really took the world by surprise when it was premiered on last year's Cannes. It's understandable because the film itself has that original recipe written all over it. That authenticity sparked excitement from many kinds of viewers (especially the critics), thus it managed to leave an evident mark during the festival.

While the sensualism of subjects delivered in the film is up for debate, the directing duo Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt didn't shy away from injecting their story with a combination of tricks that aren't actually meant to be used concurrently. At the heart of the story is Diamantino Matamouros (Carloto Cotta), a Portuguese football superstar whose life has been falling apart since failing in the World Cup final. The passing of his dad makes things worse, and his evil twin sisters are trying to exploit his body for money by forcing him to participate as a guinea-pig for a genetic engineering experiment.

Diamantino is trying to seek redemption for his soul and decided to adopt a Mozambican teenage refugee named Rahim (Cleo Tavares). But, he doesn't know that Rahim is not everything he says he is, and he has his own agenda. I just couldn't help thinking that Diamantino looks like a cheap bootleg of Cristiano Ronaldo judging from the way they depicted his physical appearance (and he also comes with such a hyperbolic level of innocence). Well, knowing the movie is indeed a satire at heart, maybe that's precisely their intention: to tell jokes and criticisms through the embodiment of the country's current icon.

On top of that, they use some ridiculous science-fiction narrative hocus pocus to create a comedic yet rather intellect insult towards both the President of USA's jargon 'Make America Great Again' and anti-European Union notion. The brilliance doesn't stop there. Abrantes and Schmidt's world building is remarkably good it almost feels like a modernized version of Luis Bunuel's surrealist vision. How the surrounding is being envisioned through the eyes of an utterly dim-witted person whose only good at football like Diamantino is spectacularly mesmerizing. Speechless is my only expression whenever Diamantino's state of mind in a form of a phantasmic sequence consisting of pinky clouds and gigantic puppies appearing on the screen.

Albeit might look too much for some, the directors aren't afraid either to go beyond the boundaries with the queer elements they have in their story. The technical arrangement is one of the biggest talking points and it deserves a round of applause for its unique and wildly rapturous frame composition. Neat cinematography is definitely showcased as the camera moved comfortably in between the chaoses; the mixture of purposely shabby practical effects and tumescent CGI created a staggering harmony along with the feature's granulated 16mm imageries; wicked costume and production design provided the required support for its comedic shticks; seemingly random soundtracks from pop songs to techno jams getting thrown collectively here and there made the experience gets even better.

This movie may only offer a message which sounds too naive and simplistic to be true like love and humanity shall triumph over any other thing, but it ain't a problem because the film knows exactly what it's attempting to be and it knows how to stick to the roots of its own ideas. If you need a more straightforward explanation, yes this film is superbly weird. But is it worth a watch? Absolutely, because this weird spectacle could be a once in a lifetime phenomenon depending on how you consume it.


Review written by: Dysan Aufar

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