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Us

Sensual but ultimately unsatisfying, "Us" unfolds a tale of alienation, seedy sex clubs and an almost-affair in an unnamed Portuguese city. Although its comely cast is never less than watchable, pic falters in its final act. Result could entrance arthouse auds in upscale markets but, despite its inclusive name, "Us" is less than universally appealing.

Sensual but ultimately unsatisfying, “Us” unfolds a tale of alienation, seedy sex clubs and an almost-affair in an unnamed Portuguese city. Although its comely cast is never less than watchable, pic falters badly in its final act. Result could entrance arthouse auds in upscale markets but, despite its inclusive name, “Us” is less than universally appealing.

After his release from prison for unspecified crimes, strikingly handsome Francisco (co-scribe Joao Pereira) wanders the city streets and finally settles in a sleazy boardinghouse. His personals ad on the Internet attracts the attention of Angela, a lonely married chambermaid, and the two meet for chaste trysts, though Francisco is also drawn to underground dance clubs. His harmless flirtation one evening with Angela’s friend disturbs Angela, and her overreaction takes a somewhat ludicrous form in the final reel. Perfs are strong, working overtime to make up for the melodrama’s shortfalls. Kinky dancing in the Cirque du Soleil-style fetish-club sequences, choreographed by helmer Claudia Tomaz (whose “Nights” won Critics’ Week top prize in Venice, 2000) and Monica Calle, help to liven up the attenuated drama, as does the limpid, variegated lensing.

Us

Portugal - France

  • Production: A Madragoa Filmes, Radiotelevisao Portuguesa (Portugal)/Gemini Films (France) production, in association with Instituto do Cinema, Audiovisual & Multimedia. (International sales: Gemini, Paris.) Produced by Paulo Branco. Directed. edited by Claudia Tomaz. Screenplay, Tomaz, Joao Pereira.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Lisa Hagstrand, Nuno Ferreira; production designer, Sergio Costa; costumes, Rosa Almeida Lima. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 12, 2003. Portuguese dialogue. Running time: 98 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Joao Pereira, Alexandra Freudenthal, Susana Vidal Canete, Paula Moreira, Patricia Andrade, Joao Patricio, Isabel de Castro, Vitor Goncalves, Monica Calle.