With the intimate feel of a documentary and the texture of a Vermeer painting, Pedro Costa’s In Vanda’s Room takes an unflinching, fragmentary look at a handful of self-destructive, marginalized people, centered around the heroin-addicted Vanda Duarte.
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Nearly as adequate for poverty and hardship reassessing as Solzhenitsyn's "One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich", the days shot around Vanda's room append another coat of frailty and perishing to what pertains to our lot: by the time credits roll in and gazes shift aside, the Duartes will've vanished tracklessly, mopped up by urban systematization that crushes homes as if transitory sets to Costa's non-fiction film
I didn't quite realize how moved I was by this film while I was watching it. Afterward, it stayed with me, hauntingly unforgettable. Watch this film, take the plunge and spend 3 hours with Vanda in her room, smoking heroin as her world crumbles around her, through no fault of her own.
In this film film we get so close to the people Pedro Costa's camera captures, that it goes beyond disconfort. We are right there, with the ilusion that this is not a film, not even a documentary. That there is no interpretation, no "angle", no agenda. And we feel naked, with no barriers, facing people, not even the cliché of "real people", playing their own lives. Hard lives. Vanda is a heroin addict. It's her life.
Still very far away from "Colossal Youth". The hyper-realist look of most shots doesn't combine with the poetic look of many others. "Vanda" lacks the fundamental organicity that Eisenstein theorized about. Worst than that it doesn't avoid patronizing forms. The editing is very flawed as it doesn't construct a solid flow of time. The ending is just lazy, lacking any emotional, sensorial or poetic strength.