Obra


Dir: Gregorio Graziosi. Brazil. 2014. 80mins

A beautifully sustained black-and-white film that is clearly driven by design, images and ideas rather than story and dialogue, Gregorio Graziosi's slow-moving story of a troubled architect is a deliberately cold and often impenetrable film, but also one worth attention due to its sheer visual rigour.

As a piece of drama, Obra offers only brief moments to intrigue in terms of formal storytelling, but where it does succeed is when it comes to its striking visual compositions that make the most of Sao Paulo's urban vistas.

This striking Brazilian film, which screened recently at the Rio Film Festival, has the look and style of a festival favourite and while its strict sense of visual composition can be just too perfect at times there is also an intriguing story lurking beneath the perfectly ordered surface.

Obra - which translates as 'building' or 'construction' - follows a busy Sao Paulo architect (Irandhir Santos) who is perturbed to discover a hidden graveyard on a site he is working on. With his British wife (Lola Peploe) pregnant and his grandfather dying he feels he cannot communicate about the skeletons at the site, but the find does spark terrible memories as he struggles to deal with what has been discovered.

The pain he feels is reflected in his moral doubts about his own success as well as physical manifestation in the herniated disk he suffers from - cue a series of again perfectly framed shots of him moving slowly in main, and one extended scene of him slowly and painfully getting dressed. …

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