A girl sinking into madness crosses paths with a boy mourning the death of his gay lover in “Odete,” a tiresomely silly film that suffers from overacting and an overwritten script. Though bold and inventive just this side of camp, director Joao Pedro Rodrigues fails to find the right tone for his fantasies in this second feature, which follows his Venice competition entry “O Fantasma” (2000). The hard male bodies on display and general theme may interest gay and lesbian festivals.
Pedro (Joao Carreira) and Rui (Nuno Gil) are deeply in love. When Pedro dies in a car crash, Rui is devastated.
Cut to Odete (Ana Cristina de Oliveira), a thin, long-legged beauty who desperately wants to have a baby. When she breaks up with her b.f. over the matter, she starts losing it.
The first signs are seen at Pedro’s wake, where she pretends to know him and his mother Teresa (Teresa Madruga) intimately, though they’re only her next door neighbors. Even more bizarrely, she sucks Rui’s ring off the dead boy’s finger and later hurls herself into his grave, screaming that she can’t live without him.
Teresa doesn’t believe her when she claims to be expecting Pedro’s baby, but the girl swells up with a hysterical pregnancy and spends her days and nights at the gravesite until the lonely woman takes her in.
Rui, meanwhile, struggles to come to terms with his very real loss. He is tormented by the ever crazier Odete, who now begins to transform herself into Pedro. Rodrigues seems to be trying to make a statement about love being stronger than death, but these awkward characters and unreal psychological situations do nothing to express it. Nor does the sappy romanticism that runs through the film, cued by Rui and Pedro’s favorite song (heard in several cover versions), “Moon River.”
As the suicidal lover, Gil uses his face and muscular body expressively enough, despite having to play straight in over-the-top scenes like Pedro dying in his arms (he has conveniently crashed the car around the corner).
De Oliveira, who looks like and indeed is a fashion model, still has to gain the acting experience that will take her beyond a pretty frown and hell-raising screaming and kicking scenes.
Tech work is fine.