In Vanda's Room

Disillusioned with the “traditional” mode of filmmaking (a crew, loads of equipment, etc.) that he employed during the making of Bones, Costa turned to a far more intimate, direct style here: only himself, a camera, and a sound recorder, to capture the staggered rhythms and internal fados of the inhabitants of the Lisbon ghetto of Fontaínhas. What emerged is “one of the most extraordinary and important films of the decade” (Cinematheque Ontario), a docu-fiction hybrid illuminated by Costa's painterly eye for composition and above all by its subjects/authors, a Bukowski-by-way-of-Lou-Reed collection of dazed junkies, hard-living women, wheezing madmen, wiry immigrant workers, and other individuals living in the cracks of the New Europe. Mirroring his subjects' internal will to destruction (heroin is the fix of choice, by morning light or candlelight), Costa slows the film down to an appropriately drugged-out rhythm and fills the soundtrack with the buzz of an external destruction, capturing the “urban renewal” project that is eliminating the homes and world of his subjects.

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