All the plot stuff is fairly predictable and pedestrian although even there I do love how classical it is in scope and style (Greek tragedy in innercity Lisbon). But what’s great about the film is the details. These characters and spaces feel so lived in, so real that it’s almost uncomfortable. Canijo does a really great job using constrained spaces to reflect character insights (reminded me of Nobuhiro Suwa in that respect). Some really interesting framing choices throughout as well… I particularly love how he uses the sides of the frame to great effect in a lot of the scenes. Everyone here is trapped.
Even better is the use of sound. This is a world where there’s never any peace to be had. It’s a world constantly inhabited by background sounds – the TV blaring, neighbors fighting, dogs barking. Canijo even allows multiple conversations on screen at the same time. This could feel gimmicky I suppose but it works here and adds to the feeling of claustrophobia and entrapment and I quite like how he uses a natural split screen effect in one of these scenes.
What is also remarkable is Canijo’s understanding of these characters and their relationships. These are not revealed via huge dramatic moments but rather through the most quotidian of interactions. Sure, the film has it’s big melodramatic tragic scenes but even more memorable (to me anyway) are the small humiliations these characters constantly suffer at other people’s hands.