The impoverished tenant of a Lisbon boarding-house, João de Deus (played to perfection by the writer/director) is one of the great miseries of the movies. He muses, in a dispassionate but doomy voice-over, on death, illness, solitude, and the bedbugs that make a nightly attack on his testicles. As the seedy, sexually frustrated, but occasionally kindly protagonist proceeds towards a pathetic, cracked assault on his harridan landlady's daughter, it's hard to know whether to laugh, weep or simply slit your wrists. In the end, it's that wry, detached sense of comic absurdity that saves the film from plunging into maudlin miserabilism. Using long, often static takes, an elliptical narrative, and stark but stylish compositions, Monteiro sidesteps psychodrama to produce something altogether cooler, more thought-provoking, and more perverse. The film makes its slow way towards the appallingly run-down mental hospital of the title, and a denouement as fantastic as it is subversive. A fascinating, quietly caustic critique of the outmoded mores of Portugal's petite bourgeoisie.
Cast and crew
|Director:||João César Monteiro|
|Screenwriter:||João César Monteiro|
|Cast:||Manuela de Freitas
João César Monteiro
Inéz de Medeiros