Thursday, June 10, 2010

Colossal Youth

Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa, 2007) [9]

There are numerous times during this viewing that I thought Colossal Youth was tedious and even boring, definitely testing my patience. Even so, I admire the hell out of it in all of its inscrutable glory. Costa makes no effort at traditional storytelling, instead blending fiction and reality into a highly repetitive, minimalist work of observation. Focusing on a handful of characters in a Lisbon slum, the central an older man named Ventura, as he shuffles in and out of a series of settings and characters. In the thinnest elements of plot, Ventura has been forced out of the Fountainhas slum, home mostly to Cape Verde immigrants like himself, and into a new housing settlement. This is the springboard for the examination of memory and identity that Costa gets at through his subtle means. The film is rigid in its execution, Ventura going from scene to scene, each one mostly single takes with minimal action. He is there to be acted upon by characters like Vanda, who scenes are near soliloquies about her life. Another sequence features Ventura and another character with most of the interaction between the two being the constant recitation of a letter Ventura wants the man to write down. While not being much in linear storytelling, these scenes as well as Costa's aesthetics, create a haunting, lonely work that still manages to mesmerize. I am one who normally despises DV but Costa works with it here to give it a documentary feel but also take advantage of natural light to create some interesting images. It creates a film experience that makes it worthwhile to get through it upon later reflection, only because the viewer has not much idea of what's going on while watching. Colossal Youth won't be positive for practically no one but for those who give it a concerted effort, its rewards only come in the days after seeing it.

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