I have been watching this film over and over and I still can't quite get a handle on it. I think it might help if I knew more about the Portuguese revolution of 1974, which didn't get a lot of press. Maybe it would help, but this film weaves in and out of dream, history and subjective memory. Much more difficult than the comparatively accessible IN VANDA'S ROOM (2000), but Costa is great; this film, mystifying.
Now is suffused w/ thens and w/ portents. The image is a voluptuary. Costa has Caravaggio'd to a place to which I am certain no other artist will ever get. This is a totem. A gnostic utterance, irreducibly profound, but smokey, opalescent. We're buried right out in the open. I have seldom felt so absolutely ravished by anything. This is what we would like to imagine drugs can do. Drugs can't do this. Not even close.
Pedro Costa’s haunting documentary/fiction hybrid Horse Money is full of extraordinary temporal discontinuities. Time becomes collapsed, splayed out before us in the darkened halls of an otherworldly interior space, a kind of purgatory inhabited by living ghosts, representing memory and disillusionment.
A blackened set dazed by the shadows sticking out an historic back scene; a swampy revelation in the recurrence of embodied brutality, absorbed in places invested with an inextricable human failure. The oppression expands that spatial unbelonging, dispelling any realistic characterization or simple surrealistic\metaphoric detour. Hecatomb of meaning in that partisan chant, sung like a funeral litany for the living.
A ritual in transfigured time, spectral souls caught in and cutting a light in deep time, a round of the night of hunters and the h(a)unted, a ritualistic liturgy made of despossessed bodies and light: as with Rembrandt, the dignity of the human is an immense calligraphy, that brings a dimension of belonging, of habitability, Through a camera, the proletariansl night becomes conscience et cela s'appelle l'aurore.
Three stars provisionally; on a furrowed-brow scale I'd give it five. During the Q&A following the HFA's screening Costa seemed alternately deflated and defiant, almost unremittingly dour, wearily funny once or twice, and committed to vagueness and deflection. He concluded by insisting, without elucidation, that his film is about "fascination and rape." HM is a puzzling, harrowing, inchoate work -- a stab in the dark
TIFF '14 Costa revisits the slums of Lisbon again through the experiences of Ventura and offers a portrait of injustice, history and race. Very Proustrian in its execution and a chore for the viewer to keep up with ghosts, illusions, reality and delusions. Costa is an acquired taste that some drool over and I admire his technique but his films always seem to leave me cold or wanting more.