Cult Classics: Diamantino

Diamantino indexSometimes it can take a fair while for a film to win me over, especially if it has a slow start or is just perhaps not initially dazzling or unusual. But on other occasions it happens extremely quickly and that was definitely the case with Diamantino, as very early on as we witness the titular character playing football and we see how he imagines the world, which includes giant fluffy puppies in pink clouds surrounding him.

We also discover that Diamantino (Carloto Cotta) has a simplistic, quite basic take on life, and he narrates the film with a gentle honesty throughout, guiding the audience through his unusual life which becomes increasingly complicated when after failing to score a penalty in the World Cup final he decides to quit football, seconds prior to this his father dies, and his two scheming twin sisters (Anabela Moreira, Margarida Moreira) trick him in to visiting a genetics laboratory which plans to clone him.

All of which might seem a little crazy, but while this is a subplot the film returns to throughout the main thrust of the film is Diamantino discovering the existence of refugees, and he is deeply touched by their plight and so decides to adopt one without realising that he is a she (Cleo Tavares), and she’s also a member of the Portuguese secret police who have been spying on him for a while now, suspecting him of money laundering.

When discussing the film directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt commented that they knew that the film was overstuffed, but I’d disagree and suggest it has the perfect amount of ideas that it plays around with, and it’s because so much is going on that the film feels fresh and innovative throughout, and is such essential viewing. There’s some very sharp, fun insight in to the nature of celebrity and the narcissistic world the central character exists in without even realising it, along with how politicians manipulate the innocent, and a stab at Brexit-like policies which are depressing deceptive is timely indeed.

There’s clearly a lot going on here and the plot might sounds slightly too ridiculous to make for a satisfying whole, especially as I’ve not even mentioned some aspects that take place during the second half. But what makes it all work so well is the lead’s charmingly innocent take on the world, and the manner in which it’s so beautifully shot, this is a sumptuous film filled with imagery that will stay with you for a long time afterwards, as will its kind hearted spirit and sweet natured sentiments.

★★★★1/2

Alex Finch.

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