Nocturnal and steeped in sinister chiaroscuro, award-winning director Pedro Costa's latest film follows Ventura, the enigmatic lead of Costa's earlier groundbreaking Colossal Youth, as he traverses a seemingly endless night populated by the ghosts of his past. From the restless spirits that haunt this decaying urban landscape, Costa conjures a spellbinding cinematic experience. Featured in many Top 5 Films of the Year lists worldwide, Horse Money is a hauntingly beautiful contemplation of Portugal's tumultuous past and uncertain future from a true poet of contemporary European cinema.
On paper it sounded like my cup of tea - a slow burning, dreamy trek through a man's life and memories. I'm okay with a lack of conventional plot and I tend to prefer cinema which is more naturalistic, but I found so little to grasp onto here that I never got invested in it at all. I felt like there was something I was missing - some context or knowledge of Portuguese culture - that maybe would have helped. From the synopsis, it sounds like it features a character from a previous film (Colossal Youth), so maybe seeing that would have helped. By itself, I found it difficult to get anything out of unfortunately.
A welcome return for the enigmatic charisma of the elderly man named Ventura.
As in Costa's earlier films we become immersed in the displaced Portuguese world of migrants from Cape Verde. Brace yourself for a portrait of profound loss and sadness.
Engaging with Costa's films on this theme can be hard going. There is more humour in 'Colossal Youth' than is evident here, but the sheer poetry of the filmic language (and the verbal language) transforms the relentless pain into cinematic gold.
Nearly all the scenes take place in a pool of light surrounded by an all-encompassing darkness. Costa seems to be saying that this is how life is.