"Talk to Her" meets "O Fantasma" in a film that revels in angst, isolation and unprocessed emotions.

Pedro Almodovar’s disturbing women-in-coma drama “Talk to Her” meets Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ disturbing fetish-fest “O Fantasma” in “Swans,” from Portuguese helmer Hugo Vieira da Silva. Like his debut, “Body Rice,” this story of a Lisbon-based, German-speaking father and son, who travel to Berlin to keep their comatose ex-wife/mother company, is light on words and action, instead preferring moods and a general sense of angst, isolation and unprocessed emotions. A transsexual minor character and full-frontal nudity might spike interest on the LGBT circuit, but the pic’s really a capital-A art film that will divide auds gay and straight.

Father Tarso (Ralph Herforth) sells German cars in Portugal, while son Manuel (Kai Hillebrand) wants to be a professional skater. Both find wintry Berlin hostile, and their visits to the terminally ill Petra (Maria Schuster) hardly cheer them up. They stay in Petra’s apartment, where a mysterious flatmate (Vasupol Siriviriyapoon) is a spectral presence that seems to excite Manuel, though clearly readable psychology seems beyond the pic’s scope. HD images are crisp in barely lit nighttime shots but flatter in daylight scenes (though long-take skater sequences still impress). Other craft contributions are solid.




A Flying Moon production, in association with Contracosta Producoes, with participation of the Post Republic. (International sales: The Match Factory, Cologne.) Produced by Helge Albers. Co-producer, Francisco Villa-Lobos. Directed, written by Hugo Vieira da Silva.


Camera (color, HD), Reinhold Vorschneider; editor, Andrea Wagner; production designer, Thomas Molt; costume designer, Gabriella Ausonio. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 10, 2011. Running time: 126 MIN.


Kai Hillebrand, Ralph Herforth, Maria Schuster, Vasupol Siriviriyapoon, Eva Kryll, Cornelius Schwalm, Christian Schwarz.

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