Pedro Costa (Portugal, 1959) [1958 according to the always unreliable Wikipedia, but 1959 according to Costa's own website]
debuted as a director with the short film Cartas a Julia (1987).
O Sangue/ Blood (1989)
is a black-and-white film in the vein of Italian neorealism of the 1950s.
Casa de Lava (1995) is a liberal remake of Tourneur's I Walked With a Zombie (1943).
Ossos/ Bones (1997),
photographed by former Robert Bresson's cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel,
which employs a mixture of actors and non-professionals, began his exploration of Lisbon's slum of Fontainhas, the shantytown of African immigrants, by following the fate of one broken family.
The plot is rudimentary at best. So many things are never told.
There are also contradictions (like Eduarda's husband who doesn't seem to exist).
The dark cinematography is sometimes annoying.
On the other hand, the fact that the film is rarely spoken has its charm.
This is almost a silent movie.
Throughout the film, the actors (or, better, non-actors) rarely show any emotion.
The camera lingers in close-ups of their faces for what seems no purpose:
the face doesn't show any emotion and doesn't change expression.
These close-ups are like stills of enigmatic sphinx-like figures.
A young woman is sitting on a bed and staring at the camera.
Clotilde is a cleaning lady who lives in the slum but works in the nice part
of town, cleaning a nice apartment. She lets a boy in.
She changes her clothes and cleans the apartment.
Then Clotilde helps her younger friend (or sister?) Tina retrieve Tina's newborn baby
at the hospital. Tina shows no emotion. They take the bus and Tina ignores
the baby. Once home, Tina tries to kill herself and the baby with gas.
The father of the baby,
Nuno, comes home, ignores them and just lies down in the bed (does he want to
die with them)? She joins him in the bed. He passes out.
She drags his body to the room with the baby to die together.
They all survive the attempt, although we are not told how.
The young woman of the first scene
smokes a cigarette and stares at the camera like in the first scene.
The following day Nuno puts the baby in a garbage bag and walks to the nice
part of town, begging passers-by for money.
Tina walks out of the house in shock.
follows Clotilde to the nice apartment and helps her clean.
Nuno has no money. A nurse passes by and gives him money for a sandwich and milk for the baby.
Somehow the milk causes the child to get sick and
Nuno has to rush to the hospital, where nurses take the baby from him.
He collapses to the floor, either exhausted or desperate, but nobody cares.
The same nurse who gave him the money, called Eduarda, takes care of the baby.
Meanwhile, Clotilde is angry that Tina let Nuno run away with the baby.
Eduarda tells Nuno that the baby is ok and takes
Nuno to her home and feeds him. Then she
kicks him out because her husband is about to come home.
Tina is told by Clotilde's older daughter that she cannot walk into the house
and Tina watches from a window Cotilde making love with her husband.
Nuno hangs out outside the hospital, clearly worried for the baby.
Eduarda again feels pity for him and brings both Nuno and the baby home.
Clotilde dances with friends and her husband gets angry because she hasn't
cooked for their children.
Tina collapses on the floor (in a manner similar to how Nuno collapsed at the hospital).
Clotilde visits Nuno at Eduarda's apartment (it is not clear how she finds
out that he is there).
He slams her against the wall (obviously holding her responsible for something
she has done but it's not shown). She tells him that Tina is under shock,
implying that he has to return the baby.
Nuno tells her that the baby is dead.
Eduarda comes home bringing food for Nuno. So she meets Clotilde for the
first time. Before leaving,
Clotilde tells Nuno that she will kill him if anything happens to Tina.
At home Clotilde tries to talk to Tina, but the girl shows no emotion.
Tina still helps her at the downtown apartment.
Nuno takes the baby to a prostitute's place and leaves the bay in the hallway
because the prostitute is busy with a client.
Clotilde calls Eduarda for work.
Eduarda checks Clotilde's child and finds out that something is wrong with her
but we are not told what.
Clotilde's husband flirts with Tina.
Nuno, back to Eduarda's place, tells her that he found someone who will keep
Clotilde sends Tina to clean Eduarda's apartment because she is sick.
Tina tries again to kill herself with gas, but this time in Eduarda's apartment.
Eduarda arrives in time to save her.
Eduarda feeds Tina and takes her home.
Nuno visits the baby at the prostitute's place and enjoys feeding
He tries to sell the baby to the prostitute.
Nuno sleeps with the prostitute but then the prostitute tells him that she
will keep the baby only if he never comes back again.
She asks him "yes or no?" but we are not shown the answer.
Eduarda takes a taxi to the slum and looks for Tina.
Clotilde's husband is angry with Clotilde again who neglects her family.
He flirts with Eduarda and presumably they make love: Clotilde's own daughter
stops her from entering the house (her task when Clotilde is making love
with her father).
Clotilde cleans Eduarda's apartment and opens the gas before leaving,
as if to try to kill Nuno.
We are not shown what happens next to Nuno.
Clotilde and Tina smile when they accidentally break a cup.
No Quarto da Vanda/ In Vanda's Room (2000), played by nonprofessional actors, was a sequel-of-sorts, set in the same location of Bones and focused on one of that film's characters, Vanda Duarte, played by herself, over the course of one year. When it's not in Vanda's room, the camera is showing us Nhurro's room. He too is an African immigrant, like Vanda.
There is very little filming in the streets of the slum, although we are
always aware that the setting is a slum, and that the slum is being demolished.
Other characters too are real people.
The film has no story and feels like a
random selection of scenes of ordinary life,
with a disproportionate emphasis on people doing drugs and
on poorly lit rooms.
The film is not even visually appealing, deliberately "poor".
The characters simply drift through life. It is not even clear how they
make money and buy food.
It's the real people who will surface again in Costa's subsequent films.
In a sense, it's the real people who "survive".
Vanda and Zita are doing drugs on a bed. They discuss
Pango, also known as Nhurro and Yuran, who just found a place to stay,
a place where a girl used to stay before she killed her baby.
Pango/ Nhurro has moved in and is fixing his new place.
Meanwhile, houses are being demolished around them.
The camera wanders back and forth from Vanda and Zita doing drugs to Nhurro
fixing his place and selling drugs to friends.
There is also a father called Miranda who has to take care of a little boy.
Pango's apartment belonged to a girl who tried to sell a baby and then put the
child in a trash can.
Vanda has an argument with her mother about a toy ship she found,
a man tries to play violin, until the owner of the toy ship comes to
Nhurro and his friend Paulo do drugs together. Paul is on crutches.
They remember their troubles with gangs: a gang set fire to Paulo's place
and he could have been killed. Nhurro, meanwhile, was saved by Vanda's father
who was driving a bulldozer when thugs wanted to rob him.
Wanda is smoking and coughing badly in her room.
Paulo is very depressed ("I am dying").
Outside, the demolition continues.
Vanda's sister Manuela/ Nela has been arrested and someone is going to visit her
in jail, and they discuss if they should try and smuggle drugs into the prison.
Paulo and Nhurro discuss calmly their lives.
They are both sorry and worried their mothers.
Vanda, always smoking, talks with Carla, a woman who was arrested for stealing.
Her sister Zita was almost killed by man when she got pregnant.
His friends Paulo and Blondie discuss doing drugs while Nhurro is fixing up the place.
Vanda gives pills to Pedro who suffers from asthma.
Paul and a friend share stories in a dark room lit by two candles.
Pedro tells Vanda how Geny died:
she was providing for both her drugs and Paulo's drugs.
Pedro leaves Vanda a bunch of flowers and leaves.
In the morning the demolition crew is at work again while
people wake up and go about their daily business.
Vanda spits, throws up, sneezes, clearly sick.
Vanda, Zita and a male friend that we don't see do drugs.
Nhurro asks Zita for food.
No artificial flowers are allowed in the cemetery.
Nhurro and Vanda discuss in her room. They are
They pay homage to their mothers.
Vanda implies that she has four siblings (Vanda, Zita, Nela and ?) and two are
already in jail.
Paulo's soliloquy tells us that he always lived illegally in abandoned houses.
The rumor spreads that the government started relocating people.
Paulo walk in a field, still on crutches.
Lena and Miranda argue. Miranda is left to take care of the boy.
Zita plays with the boy while the demolition continues.
Women yell at each other while the camera focused on nothing
from inside a demolished house.
Costa also made a documentary about the French filmmakers Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet Ou Git Votre Sourire Enfoui?/ Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (2001), extracted from 150 hours of filming the Straubs in their studio.
Juventude em Marcha/ Colossal Youth (2006), assembled from 340 hours of video recorded (with a small video camera) over more than one year spent with Vanda and her friends, continued Costa's exploration of the African immigrants.
This time Ventura, the retired construction worker, takes the leading role, and the film simply invites us to wander and get lost in the labyrinth of Ventura's mind, populated with both dead and living people, real and imaginary ones, and animated by both current and past events. Ventura thinks that they are all members of his family: son, daughter, wife (whom we never see); but they don't behave like they are.
Ventura is an anti-Ulysses, a man who doesn't go on a long heroic journey but
is instead stuck in one humble place, an errant of the slums,
and at the same time a man who doesn't have a home to go to, even if he wanted
to. Nonetheless, this mediocre man's
silence and stillness, and lost gaze, emanate a stately awe
as if he were an inscrutable prophet.
Unlike Vanda, Colossal Youth (2006)
tells a story, although the plot is a bit of a puzzle because of the
sudden time shifts, and the story revolves around a protagonist.
After being evicted from his slum and relocated to a housing project,
the aging Ventura is an immigrant again: he is trying to adapt to a new life
while haunted by his former life. He is twice alienated.
The other big difference compared with Vanda is that the actors feel
less real, their acting is more theatrical, almost Brecht-ian, instead of
being realistic and emotional like it was in Vanda
Costa develops a poetry of long takes, and they are frequently of actors who are not moving or are doing something trivial, something akin to
Manuel DeOliveira's cinema, with the same degree
of formal rigor, but more stillness, sometimes resembling tableaux vivant,
and slowly acquiring a hypnotic quality. The same hypnotic effect comes from
the letter that Ventura keeps reciting like a prayer or an exorcism.
We are shaken off the hypnotic state by Brechtian moments like when we
hear Paulo's story not through his voice but through Ventura's voice:
the effect is harrowing. We suddently feel like we are inside a ghost story.
And in fact this is precisely what the film becomes towards the end, when the
ghost of his friend appears to Ventura, reciting a love letter for his dead wife.
There is a bit of Tarkovsky and a bit of Ozu in Costa's cinema, but ultimately
he is coining his own language.
At first, we hear the noise of furniture being broken and then we see furniture
being thrown out of the window of a dilapidated building.
An intimidating woman, Clotilde, holding a knife in a dark room boasts of having been a swimming champion in her youth.
Ventura walks towards a new building and shouts looking for Bete, whom he
addresses as his daughter, and shouts that her mother left him and doesn't
love him anymore.
A woman shouts back that he's at the wrong door of the wrong daughter.
Then we see him shaking hands with his friend Xana.
Then he visits a young man whom he refers to as a son and tells him that
the wife left him, that she stabbed him with a knife and that she
smashed all the furniture. Ventura adds that the woman
had Clotilde's face but maybe wasn't Clotilde.
Ventura then visits Vanda, treating her as his daughter, and again starts
talking about this incident with what would be her mother, but Vanda replies
that her mother is buried in a cemetery.
Vanda has a little daughter. She doesn't get unemployment nor pension.
They watch television together.
He walks to his very bare shack and plays cards with his housemate Lento.
Ventura suggests that Lento writes a letter for his woman Arcangela's birthday,
a letter that Ventura starts reciting (the letter is a paraphrase of a famous
love letter written by Robert Desnos from a German concentration camp during World War II).
The letter says that he misses his woman and keeps waiting to hear from her.
Ventura recites it again word by word later. Presumably this is a letter
than at some point he wrote to his own woman in the past.
Then he is sitting outside a woman's shack but she doesn't even talk to him.
Then he meets a social-housing official who shows him the apartment where
he could move. Ventura objects that the apartment is too small for his family
and demands an apartment with more rooms.
Then he is back at Vanda's place.
She remembers how she gave birth to her daughter.
She is grateful to her husband Paulo for supporting her throughout her ordeal.
She stopped doing drugs two years earlier.
Meanwhile the television is on all the time.
Ventura eats with his son at a simple restaurant (we only see the white
Before falling asleep in his shack, Ventura recites again the romantic letter,
as if it were a prayer. The melancholy ending is emphasized: he still ha no
words from his lover.
Then we see Ventura in a museum, leaning against the wall between a
Rubens and a Van Dyck.
Ventura talks of the day (29 August 1972) when he and his cousin Augusto
boarded an airplane with some 400 migrants. The following day he was
hired as a construction worker and eventually he was assigned to the
construction of that museum. The museum guard remembers being a security
guard in poor market of their home country, and remarks that his
job is too easy in Portugal compared with back then.
Ventura talks of when he fell from the scaffolding and injured his head.
Later we see Ventura in his shack, his head now wrapped in a white bandage,
playing cards with Lento (presumably this is a flashback and it means that
he used to live with Lento when he was a young man, although the film shows
him always at the same old age).
Ventura continues reciting the love letter that he wants to
teach to Lento, but Lento objeects that he can't read and write.
Lento complains that Ventura always wins at cards.
Lento picks up a pen and tries to write while Ventura puts an old record on
Suddenly Ventura stops Lento from writing and
they stand still for a long time,
Ventura staring down and Lento staring at Ventura.
Then we are back in Vanda's apartment and this time the child is there.
Vanda is coughing badly. They discuss the other daughter Bete
while the TV set is playing music.
Vanda doesn't believe that her brother Nhurro is alive.
A female voice reminds him that he has a dead son.
We don't see her face then Bete appears.
They are in Bete's shack and they both sneeze (Ventura and Bete).
Then he sits outside in a broken purple armchair.
Ventura visits Nhurro, who claims to have changed and now has a good job
and lives in a nice flat. Ventura tells him that their ghetto has been
demolished, and that Bete is the only one left there.
Everybody else was relocated by the government.
Nhurro says that his mother stopped drinking three weeks earlier,
and now she's recovering.
He wants to buy her nice furniture and appliances.
Nhurro talks of his father as if Ventura is not standing there, or as if
Ventura is not his father.
Lento recites the romantic letter while Ventura walks around.
Ventura meets the social-housing official again, and this time he gets
a bigger apartment, but with no furniture inside. Before leaving, the
official mentions that he is
surprised that Ventura never showed up with his wife and his children.
Ventura replies that he doesn't know yet how many children he has.
Ventura searches for some papers in a dilapidated room.
Vanda tells Ventura that she wants to take her daughter to Fatima.
Vanda is worried that she will die and will not be able to take care of
She promised to god that if the girl would be born healthy and if she would get
rid of her drug addiction, she'd take the child to Fatima.
Ventura offers to join trip and to pay.
Vanda jokes that the "cripple" also wants to come despite having an
artificial leg (this would be Paulo).
She is taking methadone every day to fight the drug addiction.
She remembers that she had no money becuse of the drug addiction when she had
the baby, and she feels bad and grateful to Paulo who sold everything for her.
Ventura's son shows up and the three have dinner together.
Ventura tells Vanda that Clotilde or a woman who looks like her
destroyed all his furniture.
He slept on the floor because even the bed was destroyed.
Clotilde even stabbed him in the hand.
And then Ventura asks his son if he's married to Vanda (whom Ventura claims
is his daughter).
Back in his shack with Lento, he recites again the romantic letter.
Paulo shows up in Ventura's apartment
(not in Lento's shack but in Ventura's unfurnished apartment).
Paulo tells the story of how he used to beg for money, from door to door.
because of his amputated leg. He followed a routine and people knew him.
Then one day a friend decided to steal his routine and went to see the
same people claiming that Paulo had committed suicide and money was needed
for his funeral.
One of these people was the wife of the chief of police.
When Paulo showed up alive, she alerted his husband and the scammer
was sentenced to jail. Paulo still begs.
Ventura tells him that his mother left him (implying that Paulo too is his
son). Paulo is indifferent to the news.
Ventura tells him the new large apartment is for the whole family.
Paulo leaves with a bag full of toys that he sells.
Then we are back to Lento and Ventura in the shack and Ventura is
wearing the white bandage on his head.
Lento warns Ventura not to go out because the government has been
overthrown, which means that it must be 1974 (hence the scenes with Lento date to Ventura's youth,
when he was working at the museum).
Ventura again tries to teach him the letter.
Ventura covers his ears and starts reciting it,
but Lento tells him the whole country is on strike and no letter can be mailed.
Then Ventura is sitting again (in daylight) outside Bete's shack in the purple
armchair and chats with friend Xana and Bete.
Then we are back at the dinner table with Vanda and his son .
After a long silence, Vanda mourns her sister Zita (which would be another
daughter of Ventura).
Back in Lento's shack, Ventura, with the white bandage on his head,
recites the romantic letter.
Another flashback shows Ventura at the hospital visiting Paulo
who just had his leg amputated. A woman is sitting next to his bed.
We hear Ventura's voice, not Paulo's, describe the ordeal.
His girlfriend Paula is sick.
Paulo asks for a job. He was trained as a goldsmith but he would do anything.
Ventura talks to Paulo about his mother Lurdes.
Paulo mentions that he was buddy with Nhurro.
We hear Ventura's voice but we see him only staring silently at Paulo and at
Ventura wants his daughter's (Vanda's) address:
he hasn't seen her in 15 years, and he
just found out that he is now a grandfather.
Back in Lento's shack, Ventura is still and silent like a mummy while
Lento climbs an electric pole to steal electricity... and then falls to
the ground, apparently dead.
Vanda is watching television as usual, always sitting on the bed.
Ventura is lying on the bed.
She has to go and clean the graves of her mother and of Zita.
Back in Nete's shack, Ventura talks of when when she was born.
She asks him how he met her mother.
Ventura's mind wanders to the apartment where the Lento used to live with
his wife and four children (this must have been before he moved into the
shack with Ventura). We see Ventura holding Lento's hand.
Lento tells him that they are now neighbors, which means that Ventura must
have been given an apartment near where Lento used to live.
Ventura heard that Lento jumped out of the window with his wife Arcangela
and 4 children when the house caught fire.
Lento's hands were burned in the accident, but he survived. His family perished.
Lento has finally memorized the letter and recites it to Ventura.
Ventura finally admits to have no family with whom to occupy his new large
home: no wife and no children.
Back to reality, Ventura knocks at Vanda's door. She is leaving for work and asks Ventura to babysit the child.
The chronology is more or less like this:
- The government has demolished Ventura's slum and has relocated him to a new
- When he was a young man, working at the museum, Ventura shared a shack with Lento, who had lost his family in a tragic fire accident.
- Ventura was injured at work and maybe lost his memory, and Lento died trying to steal electricity for their shack.
- Now only Bete is left in a shack of the slum.
- Vanda has been relocated to an apartment and has a daughter.
- Ventura has been relocated to a large unfurnished apartment because he claimed to have a large family, but, after having called everybody "son" and "daughter", he admits that he is alone.
- He helps Vanda take care of her daughter, convinced of being her grandfather.
His austere style built out of long takes and chiaroscuro environments
is further enhanced by the non-linear structure of Cavalo Dinheiro/ Horse Money (2014).
The film begins with the protagonist descending into what looks like a prison
cell, but obviously it is not because he is free: it is more likely to be
a descent into a Dantesque hell: his own Freudian subconscious.
There he meets all the ghosts of his past
who are condemned to sojourn there for as long as he lives.
The flashbacks and hallucinations make it difficult to determine what truly
happens, but one can guess that:
Ventura, an African immigrant, is interned in a hospital for his frequent lapses of memory and is hand shaking;
he is haunted by both the democratic revolution and a failed fascist coup during either of which he may have killed someone and may have been almost killed;
Ventura faked his friend Joaquim's death certificate in order for his wife
Vitalina to join them in Portugal.
How the two facts relate remains a mystery until the end.
The film's 21-minute elevator scene constitutes one of Costa's artistic peaks.
The film begins with a parade of still black-and-white photos of
ordinary life and ordinary people in early 20th century
(photos of life in the tenements of New York by Danish
photographer Jacob Riis),
a parade that
ends with the oil painting (not photo) of a black man.
We hear footsteps and we see an old black man, mostly naked, who descends the
stairs, opens a gate and enters a tunnel. At the end of it, a
doctor puts clothes on him and escorts him through a corridor to a hospital
room. The old man's hand keep shaking.
As he lies in his bed, a number of black men come to visit him.
They call him "Ventura":
Ventura was the protagonist of Colossal Youth.
One of them tells him that they thought he had emigrated.
Then they start telling him what happened to their friends: one
set his house on fire, one was maimed on a construction site, one ended up
in jail for dealing drugs, etc.
They all agree that their lot is cursed to live the same life of miseries over and over again.
Then he descends the stairs again, this time dressed properly, and he is met
by another man.
He is taken to a room where he is interrogated by a man that we don't see,
presumably a doctor. The doctor asks him simple questions to asses if he's
in control of his mind.
He remembers that he was born in Africa, in the Portuguese colony of Cape Verde.
But he claims that he is 19 years old, and that he got lost.
He is a retired bricklayer, but at the same time he is a teenager trapped
in a revolution: he says that the revolutionary army took him there, and
that it will happen again.
The voice asks him if he nows where he is and what the date is.
He thinks that it is March 1975, when general Spinola was president,
in the aftermath of Portugal's democratic revolution and
shortly before an attempted coup by fascist militias.
Now we realize that his mind is wandering to 1975.
It is actually 2013.
He descends the stairs again. This time the ghost he meets is a woman,
but we don't get to see her face. Then a man tells him to confess.
Then he sits on a chair and stares at an African mask hanging on the wall.
Then he reads a letter, and writes something on it.
Then he meets Vitalina. She too is from Cape Verde.
She describes how she obtained her visa to travel to Portugal to attend
the funeral of her husband just when she had had an accident that her left
her face disfigured. She was mostly blind and she nearly died on the airplane.
She arrived feverish in Portugal.
She talks about her husband's funeral, but Ventura tells
tells her that her husband is alive and is receiving the same treatment as him.
Vitalina notices his hand trembling.
Ventura tells Vitalina that he has saved money to buy a plane ticket for his wife Zulmira so she can join him in Portugal.
Ventura insists that Vitalina's
husband is alive. He is diabetic too, but alive.
She hands him the certificate of death.
Ventura doesn't react. He asks about his old home. Vitalina tells him that
it's destroyed, all the animals escaped, and his horse Dinhero died.
A man on crutches walks in the corridor (is this Vitalina's husband who is
supposed to be dead?)
Ventura sits in cafeteria alone.
We see a scupture towering in traffic, a sort of Statue of Liberty.
He starts writing a letter to the embassy in Cape Verde in which
he confirm the death of Joaquim in Portugal and pleas to the embassy that
they grant a visa to the widow, Vitalina, to attend the funeral.
A voiceover tells us that
Joaquim died at the age of 56, but the one we see lying horizontal at the morgue
is old Ventura.
The voiceover repeats twice "cause of death" but doesn't say which one,
as if it was unknown.
Vitalina reads two certificates of birth, her husband's and her own,
and then their marriage certificate: they got married in
1982, when Joaquim was 25 years old and residing in Portugal, and Vitalina was
22 years old.
This means that Joaquim died in 2013, that he just died recently and Vitalina
Next, she is dressed like a doctor and has her own office.
She changes clothes to normal but still sits at the desk.
Ventura walks in and checks her passport.
They are alone in the office.
He narrates to her a fateful sunday when he was with his brother.
She takes over the narrative but speaking on his behalf, telling the story
from his viewpoint. They alternate.
He got into a knife fight with someone and his brother stopped him from
killing the other.
We are not told who the victim was (and whether he died) but he must be
someone close to Vitalina (maybe the same husband?)
Ventura repeats to her that her husband is not dead.
Then the scene changes to a forest where soldiers are searching for a young
man, they find him, disarm him and arresting him. They carry him away while
he is having an epileptic fit, his hand trembling the way Ventura's hand
Lying down on a hospital bed, he sees the dead man
asking him who is going to provide for his widow (but it is not clear whether
the victim is Vitalina's husband or someone else).
At night Ventura walks out of the hospital chased by doctors,
shouting Vitalina's name.
A song talks about the hard life of the laborers who came
from Cape Verde to work in Portugal,
while we see photos of life in the slum of the immigrants.
Then the flashback into the forest restarts with two young men
staring at each another, people calling him Ventura, and...
suddenly he is again walking half naked in the street at night,
and soldiers surround him.
Now he is walking thought a semi-demolished building
that used to house a construction company, the one for which he and other
immigrants used to work.
He takes his coat off as if he's going to work, and tries to use the telephones
who are all disconnected.
He behaves as if he is at work but he's walking on glass shards.
He talks with the ghost of an old coworker
who tells him what happened: when the democratic revolution started,
the boss ran away with the money and the firm went bankrupt.
He and the ghost sing together.
He enters the boss' office and asks permission to sit.
He complains that the boss wants to lower his salary.
Then the scene changes to another office, where
he meets Vitalina who has come to collect her pension.
He gives her a letter from her husband.
She reads it but does't say a word.
Still weating his hospital pajama,
he takes an elevator that has the statue of an armed soldier,
and begins a lengthy dialogue with the statue, whom he imagines as a
member of the revolutionary army.
He asks if he's in jail and if he's going to be killed. The voice replies
that he has already died a thousand times.
Ventura says that he built banks and schools as a construction worker.
Because of the coup, the boss stopped the work on their last project,
a building for the telephone company.
The soldier says that he took him to the military hospital after
the shootout with the fascist police.
Ventura says that he was working to save money to build his own house and to
bring Zulmira over from Cape Verde.
He tells the soldier that he worked to raise his children. The soldier retorts
that his children are yet to be born.
Ventura reminisces when he was living in the company barracks when he was a worker.
The statue of the soldier takes its helmet in its hands.
(This scene lasts a lot longer than an elevator ride, of course).
Ventura improvises a song about his own life story,
how he sold his land to buy his ticket to Portugal, and
how he worked as a construction worker all his life.
He hears the voice of Zulmira.
A freedom trooper stole his wedding ring and wanted to kill him.
The soldier reminds him that they will soon die and be forgotten anyway,
but gives him hope that what they have done will make others happy.
The elevator scene finally ends and Ventura, in the same pajama, walks into
and appproaches a fellow patient. Ventura tells him that the
doctor has discharged him. Ventura's friend cannot eat his food because
his right arm is injured. Ventura feeds him.
(Is this Vitalina's husband who is supposed to be dead?)
Ventura descends the stairs one last time, this time
dressed elegantly and accompanied by a doctor. They walk past the giant
gate of the clinic, the doctor shakes his hand and lights a cigarette,
and Ventura walks way. Soon, however, Ventura stops in front of a shop window
that is displaying knives...
Vitalina Varela (2019)