×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Body Rice

Portuguese filmmaker Hugo Vieira da Silva makes a bold transition from doc shorts to "Body Rice," a debut feature that skirts the edges of narrative and palpably conveys the drift and anomie of young Germans sent to an "alternative" community in southern Portugal.

With:
With: Sylta Fee Wegmann, Alice Dwyer, Julika Jenkins, Andre Hennicke, Pedro Hestnes, Luis Guerra, Luis Soveral. (German, Portuguese dialogue)

Portuguese filmmaker Hugo Vieira da Silva makes a bold transition from doc shorts to “Body Rice,” a debut feature that skirts the edges of narrative and palpably conveys the drift and anomie of young Germans sent to an “alternative” community in southern Portugal. Local January opening spawned a public debate over the pic, and wide fest embrace (including prizes in Locarno and Mexico City) will lead to further notoriety and possible arthouse distrib buys.

Vieira da Silva smoothly joins the esteemed company of other young Iberoamerican helmers like Lisandro Alonso (“Los Muertos”), Albert Serra (“Honor de Cavalleria”) and Paz Encina (“Paraguayan Hammock”), interested more in image and sound than psychology and dramatics.

Cast of pro German and Portuguese thesps is asked to work largely without words — the nearly two-hour film contains less than 10 minutes of spoken dialogue, much of that in brief fragments — and let their bodies do the talking. But the intensely observant manner in which the final results are put onscreen commands similarly intense involvement from viewers primed for a kind of “silent” cinema with sound.

Pre-credits passage set during the first Gulf War in what may be a Lisbon hotel shows Julia (Alice Dwyer), looking every bit the “bad girl,” observing the routines of housekeepers. Credits section is yet another isolated chunk of action, this time in grainy black-and-white, showing wild Berlin youth before the Wall fell. (Vieira da Silva culled footage from Christoph Doering’s experimental 1979 feature, “3302.”) By the time dissolute teen Katrin (Sylta Fee Wegmann) arrives in the lonely Alentejo area south of Lisbon, a pattern of youth in search of meaning — or perhaps tired of the search — has been established.

Characters are never identified on camera, but focus on Katrin’s every move places her in the foreground of Vieira da Silva’s compositions and beautifully choreographed moving shots, with Julia — already well ensconced in the strange German-run community — as her pal.

Initially devised as a doc, “Body Rice” is based on considerable research and firsthand observation of similar experimental camps designed to push wayward German youth toward more responsible behavior. But with Katrin as aud’s eyes and ears, it’s clear that this group living arrangement has become something closer to a long vacation from reality, punctuated by all-day, all-night raves set to techno music.

Pic enforces firm suspension of judgment toward the lifestyles onscreen and absolute denial of the psychological or social purposes underlying the place itself. Rather, pic develops as the characters watch and/or rub up against one another — whether it’s Katrin getting to know ne’er-do-well teen Pedro (Luis Guerra) or middle-aged epileptic Joaquim (Pedro Hestnes) showing her some empathy and suggesting he may want more. Even a shot that could have been just a conventionally pretty moment — Julia watching a nude Katrin wade the local lake — here explodes with unstated sexual tension.

Pic easily alternates between passages of pure play (kids gleefully playing in a paradise of their own making, Katrin enjoying a dancing robot)and absolute gravity (Dieter beating his dog, a drowned unidentified person being retrieved from the lake). Appropriately, if frustratingly for some auds, nothing is resolved for members of a generation sated with the “doom-and-void” music of Joy Division, X-Mal Deutschland and Einsturzende Neubauten, which fills the soundtrack with rare sonic power.

Highly disciplined perfs belie the characters’ generally fatigued air, with actors operating not unlike Robert Bresson’s actor “models.” Vieira da Silva finds striking collaborators for his total-cinema effect in lenser Paulo Ares, editor Paulo MilHomens and the sound team of Pedro Melo, Gerard Rousseau and Elsa Ferreira.

Body Rice

Portugal

Production: An Atalanta Filmes release (in Portugal) of a Paolo Branco presentation of a Clap Filmes production. (International sales: Madragoa Filmes, Lisbon.) Produced by Paolo Branco. Directed, written by Hugo Vieira da Silva.

Crew: Camera (Lightfilm/Tobis Portuguese color), Paulo Ares; editor, Paulo MilHomens; music, Joey Beltram, X-Mal Deutschland, Einsturzende Neubauten, Joy Division, Hilliard Ensemble; costume designer, Maria Gambina; hair/makeup, Eva Graca; sound (Dolby Digital), Pedro Melo, Gerard Rousseau, Elsa Ferreira; supervising sound editor, Ferreira, Goncalo Brum; assistant director, Natali Rajak; casting, Silke Marquardt-Koch (Germany), Rita Pinto Leite (Portugal). Reviewed at Mexico City Film Festival, Feb. 26, 2007. (Also in Locarno, Rotterdam, Buenos Aires film festivals.) Running time: 118 MIN.

With: With: Sylta Fee Wegmann, Alice Dwyer, Julika Jenkins, Andre Hennicke, Pedro Hestnes, Luis Guerra, Luis Soveral. (German, Portuguese dialogue)

More Film

  • With PGA win, 'Green Book' is

    Oscars: With PGA Victory, 'Green Book' Becomes Best Picture Frontrunner

    Save for a pair of recent back-to-back discrepancies in “The Big Short” and “La La Land,” the Producers Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Theatrical Motion Pictures has been a fairly reliable barometer for the annual Oscar season outcome. At least, ever since both the PGA and film Academy expanded their top categories, sharing the [...]

  • Peter Farrelly30th Annual Producers Guild Awards,

    PGA Awards: 'Green Book' Wins Top Feature Film Award

    “Green Book” has won the Producers Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award as the top feature film of 2018. The 1960s drama-comedy topped “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite,”  “A Quiet Place,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice. “When you make ‘Dumb and Dumber’ you never expect to get an award,” [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Andy Gruenberg, Veteran Film Executive, Dies at 68

    Veteran film executive Andy Gruenberg, who most recently oversaw theatrical distribution at Netflix, died suddenly on Friday. He was 68. Gruenberg worked on classic films like “Ghostbusters,” “Karate Kid” and “Silverado” while at Columbia Pictures in the 80s and 90s. He then moved to MGM where he served as exec VP of distribution. There he [...]

  • Fyre Festival Caterer Receives Thousands in

    Unpaid Fyre Festival Caterer Raises Thousands in Donations on GoFundMe

    As two Fyre Festival documentaries hit the airwaves, a couple who say their credit was ruined due to the Fyre Festival’s lack of payment for their services have raised $54,381 at time of publication on GoFundMe. Elvis and Maryann Rolle wrote on their page that they catered “no less than 1000 meals per day” in [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Author Tony Mendez arrives at the

    Tony Mendez, Former CIA Officer Depicted in 'Argo,' Dies at 78

    Tony Mendez, the former CIA technical operations officer who orchestrated the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats from Iran and who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the Academy Award winning film “Argo,” has died. He was 78. Mendez’s book agent, Christy Fletcher, announced the news on Twitter Saturday morning. “Early this morning, Antonio (Tony) [...]

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content