Review: ‘Fragile Like the World’

A pair of teenage lovers, frustrated at being kept apart, run away together and live in the woods until fate steps in. Theme may be similar to Bo Widerberg's Svensk classic "Elvira Madigan," but Rita Azevedo Gomes' Portuguese potboiler lacks the beauty, sensuality and, of course, the Mozart of the earlier film. It's hard to imagine an audience for the film, outside indulgent festival outings.

A pair of teenage lovers, frustrated at being kept apart, run away together and live in the woods until fate steps in. Theme may be similar to Bo Widerberg’s Svensk classic “Elvira Madigan,” but this Portuguese potboiler lacks the beauty, sensuality and, of course, the Mozart of the earlier film. A heavy-handed approach to lyricism characterizes this slightly plotted but overlong hymn to young love, but so unenthralling are the results that it’s hard to imagine an audience for the film, outside indulgent festival outings.

Mostly filmed in black-and-white, with occasional color inserts, pic takes a very long time to tell the simplest of stories. Little sympathy is evoked for the young lovers, and writer-director Rita Azevedo Gomes seems determined to prevent any emotional involvement in this doomed romance. Editing is slack, with individual shots allowed to linger on long after the scissors should have been gainfully employed. Pretentious voiceover narration doesn’t help.

Fragile Like the World

Portugal

Production

A Madragoa Filmes-RTP co-production, in association with Gemini Films. (International sales: Gemini Films, Paris.) Produced by Paulo Branco. Directed, written by Rita Azevedo Gomes.

Crew

Camera (B&W, color), Acacio de Almeida; editor, Patricia Saramago; production, costumer designer, Paula Migalhada. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (New Territories), Sept. 1, 2001. Original title: Fragile como o Mundo. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Maria Goncalves, Bruno Terra, Sophie Balabanian, Carlos Ferreira, Manuela de Freitas, Duarte de Almeida.
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