Portuguese-speakers number 200 million globally, and Victor Lopes’ wide-ranging travelogue, “Language — Lives in Portuguese,” offers a fascinating glimpse of their diversity, only to drop the ball in the editing room. Structure is sorely lacking in this shapeless docu, which feels like it could be arbitrarily cut off at almost any point. Without some serious cutting and shaping, it looks like a hard sell to TV broadcasters outside Brazil and Portugal. Yet, the uniformly high level of images and concentration on people in exotic places gives the film an encyclopedic feel which, coupled with its upbeat tone, could target educational venues.
Material spans Lisbon, Rio, Goa, Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde, with Portuguese-speaking Japanese in Tokyo thrown in for good measure. From an African boy singing rap in an abandoned hotel where he lives to a middle-class Indian family enjoying carnival time in Goa and the group Madredeus in concert on Copacabana beach, film celebrates a world speaking a common language but leading completely different lives. Underscoring the point, Portugal’s former colonies have reinvented the lingo to such an extent that subtitles in standard Portuguese are necessary throughout.