×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Blood of My Blood

A soap opera filtered through the influences of Mike Leigh, Robert Altman and John Cassavetes, Jose Canijo's "Blood of My Blood" is an overlong portrait of a family living in one of Lisbon's rougher districts.

With:
With: Rita Blanco, Anabela Moreira, Cleia Almeida, Rafael Morais, Marcello Urgeghe, Nuno Lopes, Beatriz Batarda, Fernando Luis, Teresa Madruga, Teresa Tavares. (Portuguese, English dialogue)

A soap opera filtered through the influences of Mike Leigh, Robert Altman and John Cassavetes, Jose Canijo’s “Blood of My Blood” is an overlong portrait of a family living in one of Lisbon’s rougher districts. Although writer-director Canijo developed the dialogue, a la Leigh, with his cast over a two-year workshop process, the actual material consists of little more than the customary tropes found in many urban melodramas, only here played by gifted actors. Global exposure will be restricted to major fests; local October opening will generate minor biz.

The film also will air in a TV version of three 50-minute episodes, adding to the impression that this is, fundamentally, a high-class telenovela. Early passages, the first set in the home of drug dealer Telmo (Nuno Lopes) and the second in the noisy apartment of Marcia (longtime Canijo collaborator Rita Blanco), have a lived-in, meandering quality to them, in which conversations take place in real time.

Marcia’s home and family are the pic’s central focus, as she tries to keeps the clan together while her grown son Joca (Rafael Morais) gets involved in Telmo’s racket, grown daughter Claudia (Cleia Almeida) falls in love with her nursing-school professor Beto (Marcello Urgeghe), and lonely thirtysomething sister Ivete (Anabela Moreira) looks for a decent man (while being overly affectionate with Joca).

The dramatic structure is a chain of extended sequences, in which Canijo’s roving, telephoto-lensed camera observes the actors as if eavesdropping on them. Overlapping dialogue, which feels contrived here, evokes the Altman touch, while the dominance of actors’ performances above all else parallel’s Leigh. The setting isn’t close to the slum conditions in such Pedro Costa films as “In Vanda’s Room,” with the sense of poverty felt mostly through dialogue rather than visuals.

As he has done in previous films, such as 2004’s “In the Darkness of the Night,” Canijo dwells in the sordid corners of existence, here climaxing the film with a face-off between Ivete and Telmo that takes sexual humiliation to unpleasant levels. Blanco stands out as a mom who fights to defend her daughter’s future prospects. All thesps exhibit unaffected naturalism.

Production aspects are kept at a less-than-glossy level, and the decision to eschew a supporting music score is smart.

Popular on Variety

Blood of My Blood

Portugal

Production: A Midas Filmes release (in Portugal) of a Midas Filmes presentation. (International sales: Midas Filmes, Lisbon.) Produced by Pedro Borges. Directed, written by Joao Canijo.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Mario Castanheira; editor, Joao Braz; production designer, Jose Pedro Penha Lopes; sound (DTS/SDDS/Dolby Digital), Olivier Blanc, Ricardo Leal, Gerard Rousseau, Elsa Ferreira; assistant director, Patrick Mendes. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 10, 2011. (Also in San Sebastian Film Festival -- competing, Rio de Janeiro, Pusan film festivals.) Running time: 139 MIN.

Cast: With: Rita Blanco, Anabela Moreira, Cleia Almeida, Rafael Morais, Marcello Urgeghe, Nuno Lopes, Beatriz Batarda, Fernando Luis, Teresa Madruga, Teresa Tavares. (Portuguese, English dialogue)

More Scene

  • Natalie Portman Benjamin Millipied LA Dance

    Natalie Portman, Benjamin Millepied Help Raise Over $1 Million For L.A. Dance Project

    Natalie Portman may be joining Chris Hemsworth in Marvel’s “Thor 4: Love and Thunder,” but as the petite, Dior-clad actress struck a range of poses on the carpet inside downtown Los Angeles gallery space Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel on Saturday night, it was impossible to imagine her wielding an enormous hammer. But then, the Oscar [...]

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

  • Helen Mirren attends the LA Premiere

    Why Helen Mirren Considers Catherine the Great to Be 'Superhuman'

    It’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren has a knack for nailing regal roles. Following her Oscar-winning on-screen reign as Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006, the thespian brings yet another powerful ruler to life in HBO’s limited mini-series “Catherine the Great.” Just as she does on the small screen as Russian Empress Catherine II, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content