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520 Ratings

Arabian Nights: Volume 2, the Desolate One

As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 2, O Desolado

Directed by Miguel Gomes
Portugal, France, 2015
  • Portuguese
  • English


An elderly criminal becomes a folk hero as he successfully evades hordes of police; a stern judge oversees a case involving 13 stolen cows, mail-order brides, a genie and a machete-wielding human lie detector; a Maltese poodle shuffles between households in a recession-stricken estate.

Our take

The second instalment of Gomes’ magnum opus is arguably the most melancholic. While the whole trilogy is a unique blend of fine irony, dark humour, blissful fantasy and fervent commitment to the present, is this middle section that confirms Arabian Nights as the ultimate political film. Hats off.

Arabian Nights: Volume 2, the Desolate One Directed by Miguel Gomes
Like the first volume, the film requires an investment on the part of the audience. But the cinematic language in which Gomes is working is immersive rather than strictly narrative. And as such, the occasional lapse of concentration hardly matters.
May 01, 2016
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Gomes welds two major stylistic and directorial strands he has manifested in his previous works into an unified directorial vision: the magical realism of his so-called musical comedies such as A Cara que Mereces (The Face You Deserve, 2004) and the docu-fiction of Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto (Our Beloved Month of August, 2008).
September 14, 2016
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This is some achievement: to have made each story completely different from the next and from the story that precedes it... Arabian Nights seems to say that the effects of policy – legislation meant to liberate Portugal of its debts – can look 1,001 different ways depending on the lens, depending through whose life we see economic reforms refracted. The triptych's wending unpredictability appears to contest the kinds of forecasts used to justify punitive austerity measures.
April 01, 2016

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