Monday, October 3, 2011


Ossos (1997) - Costa
There are two big questions I asked myself: What is cinema for? What's the truthful representation?, after watching Pedro Costa's Ossos, the first part of the so-called 'The Fontainhas Trilogy' and the only one shot on 35mm. From what I've read about him and Fontainhas so far, Costa was in transition from making films the typical way - big crew, money, equipment... the whole circus, to barebone, to get something more real, substantial, obscure yet concrete. In Ossos, characters barely talk even though there are constant chatters, noises of the city slum around them. Their hunched stature, sad eyes, small gait tell you as much information as in-dept urban safari documentaries. There are no big melodramas or triumphs in this part of the town in Lisbon. Of course, they have emotions, just like anybody else. They are just harder to detect. If anything, Ossos is an impression of a place deeply rooted in its people. The premise of the film resembles L'enfant by Belgian neo-realists Dardennes: young parents, a new born baby. But Costa's drama doesn't arise from two pitted people or the baby baiting. His scope is wider and his aim higher, reflecting these people's resilience, their refusal to die. It's a beautiful film. And I'm still working on the answers to the questions.