Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4/5.
Author: Feargal Agard | Runtime: 76 min. | Director: Gabe Klinger | Year: 2016.
What a touching story. This is one of those films with almost no words, but only emotions, feelings and expressions. It makes it powerful and it urges you to engage and search for meaning in hopes to discover the secrets and significance that lies underneath. Watching this film made me feel very moved.
Porto tells the story of two main characters. Jake Kleeman (Anton Yelchin) and Mari Vargnier (Lucie Lucas). They are both outsiders in the northern Portuguese city Porto, where they had a short love affair. Whilst they’re reliving their past, present and future we get to know them better. Why they moved to Porto, how they met and what their brief love affair did to them. They have an intense desire for each other, but each expresses it in his/her own way. Mari is more timid and Jake is more assertive. All of these events culminate into the revelation of their sexual exploration.
Porto was directed by Gabe Klinger and together with Larry Gross he wrote the script. It is interesting to note that this is Klinger’s debut film that was made possible with the help of well-known film director Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive, Paterson). The film premiered for the first time at the film festival of San Sebastian. Porto could be seen as a film that is about two persons analyzing and retracing particular moments that they shared together. The film is literally made up out of images that seem to display memories of the main characters own perspectives, but also their shared perspective. Thematically it deals with intense desires and unique unexplainable connections, which is most likely why the main characters look back at their short love affair. Trying to understand what it meant and slowly revealing what really happened between the two of them. The film stars Anton Yelchin, Lucie Lucas and Paulo Calatré.
Anton Yelchin who unfortunately died in the summer of 2016 left a marvelous performance. He is a master of showing his character’s vulnerability. The thought process seen through his eyes that he expresses in this film is remarkably believable. Jake is a soft character with a lot of depth and an entire untold background story that can just be felt by his posture, behavior and through Yelchin’s acting. Mari who is played by Lucie Lucas was displayed as an intelligent young woman who is determined and focused on her career. Next to that she is portrayed as spontaneous and curious for something new, which is why she all of a sudden ends up in this intense situation with Jake. It is interesting to note that Jake seems to be the complete opposite of Mari. Mari focuses on her health and career and Jake just focuses on his day to day survival. Nonetheless, both performances were so intimate and very sweet. It was moving and touching to see.
The cinematography is very outstanding, especially since the choice had been made to mix a variety of looks to give emphasis to the different perspectives. Every time when the main characters were on their own they were displayed in a none-1080p/35mm shot that resembled more a 480p/8mm or 16mm grainy shot, which gives a feeling of old analog film nostalgia. As if you’re walking with them in the city of Porto back in the 60’s or anything remotely similar to that. The moments when they were together or in real-time the shots met contemporary expectations, which would be the HD images (1080p/35mm) that we are used to see these days in cinema. It is a unique choice and it gave the film a more poetic and picturesque look. It also made the clear distinction that you are now viewing memories in the minds of the characters or not. It aided in giving the film’s timeline a shape in which we can recognize where we are now. The shots are placed in a most intrinsic and intimate manner. We are so close to the characters that we are allowed to read their minds and feel their experiences from up close.
Porto is an amazingly poetic piece. To me it feels like the sort of film that you would have liked to come up with. It is so full of show and no telling. It is so visually ripe to be scanned by audiences eager to unravel the true story behind these characters. Even if there wasn’t much of a back story to the characters it just urges you to be quiet and watch as this love story unfolds right in front of you. Besides that it makes you fall in love with Porto. I’d recommend this film to anyone whose curiosity is spiked by the trailer, but especially if you like Anton Yelchin or mysterious love dramas in general.
In Dutch theatres as from the 27th of July 2017.
Genre: Drama, Romance | Language: English, Portuguese, French | Dutch Distributor: Cinéart Nederland BV.
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