The Invisible Life (A Vida Invisível) (PG) Close-Up Film Review


Dir. Vítor Gonçalves, Portugal/UK, 2013, 99 mins, in Portuguese with subtitles

Cast: Filipe Duarte, Maria João Pinho, João Perry

There’s a time and a place for slow, ‘chamber cinema’. And Vítor Gonçalves’ The Invisible Life is a great example of just that.

Hugo (Duarte) is a civil servant, working out of a gloomy building in Lisbon. His boss and mentor, Antonio (Perry), is dying; Hugo keeps thinking about his ex, architecture student turned air stewardess Adriana (Pinho).

The Invisible Life is a film with not much plot but oodles of mood, and it’s of the dark and brooding variety. Hugo spends most of the film with his head bowed, pacing up and down dark interiors. It’s hard to work out what Hugo’s problem is. He isn’t bored. He isn’t exactly depressed. He just inhabits a kind of sadness. He feels the weight of his environments, their vast otherness, their past-ness.

It isn’t just his relationships and working environments that cast the shadow of mortality over his life; he has also come across Super 8 films of what look like the wilder shores of Scotland.

The Invisible Life is a real, if subdued, treat with lovely cinematography by Leonardo Simões and some enveloping music by Brit contemporary composer Sinan Savaskan. It’s been 26 years since Gonçalves made his previous, first film. Let’s hope he feels the need to do it again sooner.

Review by Colin Dibben

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