By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of Four Stars)
This experimental film by Joao Pedro Rodriguez and Joao Rui Guerra de Mata ambitiously attempts to combine seemingly random film footage of the city of Macao with a highly imaginative narrative, but doesn’t quite succeed in its execution. The narrative involves the return of an unnamed, unseen Portuguese man to the fascinating city of Macao to help an ex-lover who has gotten into some serious trouble. All of the characters of the film are never seen on camera. Only there voices narrating the story and action can be heard, with the exception of the moments where the audience sees the perspective of certain characters their point of view. The story delves into some wildly supernatural territory which I found rather enjoyable and entertaining; however, in this particular film, it was most difficult to connect with the characters that are never ever seen.
It is also difficult to tell if the footage was originally shot for an entirely different purpose, or if the directors shot the scenes with the narrative in mind the whole time. Certain moments do work well, while others feel out of place. The filmmakers’ ambitiously creative storytelling technique does deserve some acknowledgement, but the story falters as a compelling piece because of the cold and lifeless way the characters are presented. In its favor, the history of the city of Macao, as presented here, does provide another intriguing element to the film, making the city itself the most engrossing character of the movie.