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Diamantino (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 1, 2020



Starring Carloto Cotta, Cleo Tavares, Anabela Moreira, Margarida Moreira, Carla Maciel, Chico Chapas, Hugo Santos Silva, Joana Barrios, Filipe Vargas, Maria Leite, Manuela Moura Guedes, Djucu Dabo, Leandro Vieira, Abílio Bejinha, Vítor de Almeida and the voices of Vitor Alves daSilva and Elisabete Pedreira.

Screenplay by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt.

Directed by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt.

Distributed by Kino Lorber. 96 minutes. Not Rated.

Take a look at the movie poster. Go on, take a good, close look at it. Sure, there are a few out of context spoilers, but trust me when I tell you there is no way that you can figure out what is going to happen in Diamantino. Yet, the poster really captures the quirky nature of this film quite perfectly.

The first thing that jumps out at you are the puppies, right? Puppies enrobed in pink smoke; the inner thought process whenever our central hero, Diamantino, is in the zone with his soccer playing. He is the best player in the world, the hero of Portugal, leading his country to the 2018 World Cup. With every driving play to the net, his brain transforms the soccer pitch into a pink smoke covered landscape and his opponents are fluffy puppies. It’s odd, adorable, and overall endearing.

Look at Diamantino’s face on the poster. The look of honest surprise. Both for the events about to unfold in the film – as narrated by Diamantino himself – and because most things take Diamantino for surprise.

As he states early in the film, “He wasn’t very well informed” about most things off the soccer pitch. For one thing, he doesn’t know that he is being watched by Portugal’s secret service for suspected money laundering (notice the poster’s Lamborghini and yacht). Nor does he know how his evil, greedy sisters, twins Sonia and Natasha, are happy to sell him to the highest bidder, no matter what the cost to Diamantino.

The night before the final match of the 2018 World Cup, Diamantino’s eyes are opened to the refugee crisis and it affects him in ways that are overwhelming to him. This leads to the loss of his mind puppies and with them, his focus.

While the world refugee crisis is no laughing manner, the film handles his emerging awareness and response in line with his character’s development.

When Diamantino decides to combat his loneliness by adopting a refugee child, one of the secret service team members goes undercover as his adopted refugee son, Rahim, to infiltrate Diamantino’s home. Diamantino is just that trusting to believe the cover. The always angry, greedy twins are suspicious but too caught up in their own plotting to give Rahim much thought, but when Rahim/Aisha starts to catch on to their evildoings, Sonia and Natasha lock step in their spiked heels and maniacally work to expose and eliminate Aisha.

Above all, this Portuguese film is funny and farcical, poking fun at different movie genres, sports players, family, greed, and even government propaganda including a not subtle jab at American politics in the “Make Portugal Great Again” commercial, including the push to Build the big wall. It’s a film that kept me saying “What??” over and over again as plot points got weirder and weirder – but it remained believable in its B-movie format. Diamantino is a film that I would happily watch again on a rainy day with a big bag of popcorn.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: June 28, 2019.

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