×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Murmuring Coast

Well-known Portuguese screenwriter Margarida Cardoso smoothly segues into feature directing in "The Murmuring Coast," a tension-laden drama set in an unnamed African country during a small civil war in the late '60s. It's well worth a peek from adventurous arthouse distribs.

With:
Evita - Beatriz Batarda Luis - Filipe Duarte Helena - Monica Calle Forza Leal - Adriano Luz Journalist - Luis Sarmento

Well-known Portuguese screenwriter Margarida Cardoso smoothly segues into feature directing in “The Murmuring Coast,” a tension-laden drama set in an unnamed African country (actually Mozambique) during a small civil war in the late ’60s. Unusually, not the war but events occurring around it are film’s subject, as viewed through the eyes of an officer’s young bride. A far cry from the murky minimalism of many Portuguese art films, pic tells an engrossing if upsetting story about the tired end of of colonialism. Pic is rigorously directed, with a tropical, retro look that anchors it in the imagination. It’s well worth a peek from adventurous arthouse distribs.

Evita (Beatriz Batarda) narrates her story from a nostalgic future, when she returns to the African coastal town and the colonial hotel she lived in with her new husband, Luis (Filipe Duarte). She looks like a ’60s postcard at her wedding reception, surrounded by military personnel and their wives. The idyll is only marred by some dead bodies that wash up on the beach, but since they’re Africans, no one pays them much heed.

The atmosphere of hidden violence grows when Luis and his strong-arm commanding officer, Capt. Forza Leal (Adriano Luz), take Evita and the captain’s sensual wife Helena (Monica Calle) out for target practice on a hapless flock of pink flamingos. The men’s maschismo is underlined by the way they treat the women like dolls. Before taking his leave to go on a months-long military campaign against the rebels, Luis asks his bride to promise she won’t leave their hotel room until he gets back.

Evita hardly recognizes the young mathematician she thought she was marrying and, though she looks obedient enough in her stiff miniskirts, she refuses to comply. Awaiting his return, she spends her lonely days wandering around the bad parts of town and visiting Helena, nicknamed Helen of Troy after her husband dispatched her lover in a game of Russian roulette. She falls in with some Portuguese newsmen who tell her about a few atrocities their countrymen have committed.

Amid mounting tension in town between the white colonialists and the Africans, a cloud of locusts heralds the return of the far-from-victorious army, and Evita and Luis’ story ends on a tragic note.

Batarda traverses this treacherous moral universe with reined-in melancholy, though her actions suggest a bolder Evita must existinside her. Though Calle is a chilling victim as the humiliated Helena, a prisoner of her own guilt, perfs generally take a back seat to the film’s mysterious atmosphere of violence, ironically contrasted to the beautiful tropical paradise.

The grainy geometry of cinematographer Lisa Hagstrand’s images coupled with Ana Vaz and Augusto Mayer’s sets imitate a stylish ’60s look. Bernardo Sassetti underscores the period look with a medley of sad and romantic tunes, while costume designer Silvia Meireles amuses with Evita’s vast wardrobe of clothes.

The Murmuring Coast

Portugal

Production: A Filmes do Tejo/Les Film de l'apres-midi production. (International sales: Filmes do Tejo, Lisbon.) Produced by Maira Joao Mayer, Francois d'Artemare. Directed by Margarida Cardoso. Screenplay, Cardoso, Cedric Basso, based on a novel by Lidia Jorge.

Crew: Camera (color), Lisa Hagstrand; editor, Pedro Marques; music, Bernardo Sassetti; production designer, Ana Vaz; set designer, Augusto Mayer; costume designer, Silvia Meireles; sound (Dolby Digital), Carlo Alberto Lopes. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Film Days), Sept. 11, 2004. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: Evita - Beatriz Batarda Luis - Filipe Duarte Helena - Monica Calle Forza Leal - Adriano Luz Journalist - Luis Sarmento

More Film

  • Issa Rae

    Issa Rae, Columbia Sign Multi-Picture Production Deal Promoting Diverse Screenwriters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Issa Rae’s production company, ColorCreative, has signed a multi-picture production deal with Columbia Pictures. The pact is unique in that under the agreement, ColorCreative will work with and back projects from emerging, diverse screenwriters. The move comes as the entertainment industry is under pressure to develop films and shows that feature underrepresented talent both in [...]

  • VR studio Baobab Crow The Legend

    Animators Embrace VR as 'Age of Sail' and 'Crow' Make Audience Inroads

    Virtual reality has been making inroads in the entertainment business for several years, but 2018 has been an especially big one for animated projects. This year, there are at least two VR-animated shorts vying for Oscar nominations: Google Spotlight Stories’ “Age of Sail” and Baobab Studios’ “Crow: The Legend.” Disney has created its first VR [...]

  • Thomas Vinterberg Kursk

    Les Arcs Festival Launches Talent Village Under Thomas Vinterberg's Patronage

    Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, Les Arcs Industry Village is launching the Talent Village, a new development workshop and platform for emerging talents which will be under the patronage of Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (“The Hunt”). Kicking off on Dec. 12 and hosted at the Cinéfabrique Film school in Lyon, the workshop will take place [...]

  • Helena Bonham Carter, Kiefer Sutherland in

    Helena Bonham Carter, Kiefer Sutherland in New 'Call of Duty' Zombies DLC

    “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s” latest zombie addition delivers players to a 1912 manor where they take on the roles of characters voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, Kiefer Sutherland, Charles Dance, and Brian Blessed. “Dead of the Night” is set at Rhodes Manor, a palatial estate in the English countryside, in the year 1912. Dozens of [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio Sam Elliott Elsie Fisher

    Yalitza Aparicio, Sam Elliott, Elsie Fisher Selected for Santa Barbara Festival Honor

    “Roma” actress Yalitza Aparicio, Sam Elliott of “A Star Is Born,” and “Eighth Grade” star Elsie Fisher are among the eight actors named by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival as its Virtuosos Award recipients. The festival gives the honor for performances in film that have elevated actors into the national cinematic dialogue. The group [...]

  • Steven Soderbergh Panama Papers

    Slamdance Festival Selects Steven Soderbergh for Founders Award

    The Slamdance Film Festival has selected Steven Soderbergh for its 2019 Founders Award. The award, first presented in 2015 to Christopher Nolan, is given to a Slamdance alumnus who has represented the Slamdance organization and supported the filmmaker community of Slamdance. It was awarded earlier this year to Joe and Anthony Russo (“Avengers: Infinity War”). [...]

  • 'Black Panther's' Danai Gurira Reflects on

    'Black Panther's' Danai Gurira Reflects on Her Red Carpet Fashion Choices

    When it comes to style, “Black Panther” star Danai Gurira is constantly learning. “This is a whole other art form,” says Gurira, who donned a tribal-inspired uniform, head tattoo and red lipstick as head bodyguard, Okoye. “Okoye had a strength and femininity and a pride — pride in her people and her culture. … She [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content