Colossal Youth

All of Pedro Costa's films reside in a netherworld between documentary and fiction, and many of them are awesome. Where Lies Your Hidden Smile? (2001), an account of Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet editing one of their films, feels very intimate, though the subjects were also being observed by students (whose presence is elided by Costa). And the exquisitely composed, naturally lit chiaroscuro of Colossal Youth (2006), shot in the surviving ruins of one Lisbon slum and around a high-rise in another, combines realism and expressionism, Louis Lumiere and Jacques Tourneur. It was cowritten by the nonprofessional, marginal, mainly nonwhite cast; rehearsed and shot in multiple takes; then edited down from 320 hours to 155 minutes over a period of 15 months. It's unlike anything else I've seen—mysterious, exalted, demanding, leisurely paced, and very beautiful—and you're bound to either love it or hate it. In Portuguese with subtitles.

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