60 years onward

A critic's perspective : Diamantino

A wild screwball satire

by Danielle Attali

La Semaine de la Critique discovered Diamantino in 2018, a wild social satire that doubles down as a love story and won the Nespresso Grand Prize.

A few weeks before the opening of the 57th edition of La Semaine de la Critique, Charles Tesson, the artistic director, and his team - which I was part of at the time - were putting the final touches to the selection. The last Friday morning discussion, we mostly likely had blurred vision and blood-shot eyes from watching 1,100 films between us. Gathered around a table covered with notepads, pens, papers, phones, laptops, we were kissing each other on the cheek (‘la bise’ was still a thing back then), drinking coffee and snacking on some dry biscuits. The Diamantino “case” was not cause for debate, nor heated exchange. We were thrilled. We all joined together in praise of this Portuguese film, directed by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt.

How can anyone resist such a sweet cliché of a film, such an implausible love story, this maelstrom of ideas and visual ingenuity? How can anyone not be moved by this delicate hero, “Tino”, this icon of Portuguese and international football, this 10-year-old child trapped in an athlete’s body? The actor Carloto Cotta is perfect in portraying this fake, utterly naïve and deeply endearing Cristiano Ronaldo, who keeps seeing small fluffy dogs running on pink clouds as he’s about to score a goal. The King of football is brutally brought down by a single kick in the middle of the world cup. Not only do football fans, and all of Portugal, suddenly turn on “Tino”, the icon manipulated by his sisters, certified gold-diggers who could give Anastasia and Drizella from Cinderella a good run for their money.

Romcom, drama, science fiction, Diamantino has also got some queer spells and a collection of zany characters; a secret service agent lady disguised as a young refugee, a racist minister and a female Doctor Evil who’s obsessed with genetic manipulations, and the list goes on. Yet, there’s method in this psychedelic, cinematic, screenwriting madness. The directors draw from their rich American-Portuguese blend to express their love for film beyond their outlook on the world. They express their love for Andy Warhol, pop culture, Hollywood classics from Preston Sturges to Ernst Lubitsch, to less popular that inspired them. This extravagant film has no safety net, and we absolutely love it. 

Hilarious, satirical and moving, Diamantino lays out the perverted etiquette of a messed-up world blinded by stardom, increasingly popular extremist parties, money and power. Football and celebrities have overcome religion and art; and celebrities are adopting migrants to buy themselves a conscience; Europe has exploded. ”Michelangelo is dead, there’ll be no new Sistine Chapel,” says the voice over. Welcome to tax havens, drones, the end of privacy, and the abuse of science. “We wanted to make a romcom that would talk about our world today,” say the directors who had been mulling over this film for eight years. And it paid off.

Once this viral intermission is over, once tomorrow resembles yesterday, most likely we’ll go back to stardom, football, the terrible situation of migrants, extremism and why not… love. 

At La Semaine de La Critique



Feature Film

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