We remember Vitalina Varela’s first, striking appearance in the hospital, in Cavalho Dinheiro (Best Director, Locarno 2014), a true Purgatory where Ventura exorcized the demons of his past, heroic and trembling. She already told the unhappy ending of her love story with Joaquim Brito, the decades she spent in Cape Verde waiting for his return or the invitation to join him in Lisbon, followed by the bitter disappointment of arriving there three days after his death. We remember the documents, the letters, the death certificates she chanted about, tears appearing only when she read her own birth certificate. However, Pedro Costa’s new film tells this story, with a reversed casting – Ventura is now the pastor of an almost entirely abandoned chapel, where Vitalina demands a new mass, and they both whisper an unfixable loss, whether it’s love or faith; from these tears, perhaps, it can proceed.
A new film therefore, where Vitalina mourns the man she’s still only discovering – the miserable lodging with a collapsing roof, the pictures of his female conquests, the visits of all the companions he preferred over her – so that she may, in turn, be reminded and then forget: “There is nothing left of the love, that clarity”. It is a new film, and undoubtedly one of his most beautiful, simplest and darkest, where Pedro Costa crosses another line with the sumptuousness of shading, the hieratic postures, the irradiating anger of tragic chanting and the stunning beauty of insert shots.