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Posted by martinteller on August 19, 2011

Like Flamenco, this is a performance film by Saura, in this case highlighting the Portuguese “fado” music.  But this is a far less compelling work.  The first problem is the music itself.  Although quite lovely and expressive, it’s almost entirely ballads (the most uptempo it ever gets is an ill-conceived fado-inspired rap).  Very pretty, but hard to appreciate for 90 minutes.  Perhaps to offset this issue, Saura goes for a lot of visual stylization, which is the other major problem.  Fado has no dance component, but many of numbers feature choreography, sometimes effectively, but something rather incongruous with the music.  And then there’s the abundance of mirrors, the use of film clips and stock footage, the sets, and most tacky of all, the giant video screens.  It’s just too busy and showy, and seems to suggest a lack of confidence in the performers’ ability to captivate an audience.  I’d rather just listen to the soundtrack (and minus the rap song, please).  Rating: Poor


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