A former assistant to fellow Portuguese directors Pedro Costa and Paulo Rocha, Claudia Tomaz creates a penetrating mood of lingering melancholy in her low-budget feature bow "Nights." Shot with cinema verite-style intensity, the film employs no music, only minimal dialogue and starkly atmospheric use of Lisbon locations to construct a bleak portrait of two heroin-addicted lovers and their life of pain, isolation and mutual dependence. However, its dramatically Spartan approach and highly deliberate pace likely will confine this rigorous exercise to the festival margins.

A former assistant to fellow Portuguese directors Pedro Costa and Paulo Rocha, Claudia Tomaz creates a penetrating mood of lingering melancholy in her low-budget feature bow “Nights.” Shot with cinema verite-style intensity, the film employs no music, only minimal dialogue and starkly atmospheric use of Lisbon locations to construct a bleak portrait of two heroin-addicted lovers and their life of pain, isolation and mutual dependence. However, its dramatically Spartan approach and highly deliberate pace likely will confine this rigorous exercise to the festival margins.

The despondent junkies, both in their late 20s, are Joao (Joao Pereira), who turns emotionless tricks with older guys to finance his habit, and Teresa (director Tomaz), too deeply in the grip of despair and indifference to seek the AIDS treatment she needs. Studying the couple and their stark surroundings in unblinking closeups, the drama slowly assembles a documentary-like view of their alienated existence and their complete dissociation from the world around them to rely only on each other. The film’s climate of unrelenting hopelessness is reflected in the blank, haunted expressions of the two leads.

**AU: David Rooney

Nights

Portugal

Production

A Madragoa Filmes production. (International sales: Gemini Film, Paris.) Produced by Paulo Branco. Directed, written by Claudia Tomaz.

Crew

Camera (color), Joao Ribeiro; editor, Tomaz, Eduardo Condorcet; art director/costume designer, Cesario Monteiro. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Critics Week), Sept. 4, 2000. Original title: Noites. Running time: 75 MIN.

With

Joao Pereira, Claudia Tomaz, Ana Bustorff, Joao D'Avila, Isabel Ruth.
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