O Fantasma

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, Erotic

A sexually explicit, hallucinatory fable of alienation and predation, in which a disenfranchised young man drifts inexorably into a fantasy world of anonymous liaisons and brutality. Feral, enigmatic Sergio (Ricardo Meneses), a nightshift garbage man, lives in a shabby rented room and shies away from contact with his co-workers, particularly the forthrightly...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A sexually explicit, hallucinatory fable of alienation and predation, in which a disenfranchised young man drifts inexorably into a fantasy world of anonymous liaisons and brutality. Feral, enigmatic Sergio (Ricardo Meneses), a nightshift garbage man, lives in a shabby rented room and shies away from contact with his co-workers, particularly the forthrightly sensual Fatima (Beatriz Torcato). Sergio prefers the company of the garbage-depot dog, a scruffy mutt named Lorde, and even mimics Lorde's behavior, growling, sniffing and licking like an animal. He prowls public places for anonymous sex and is driven to antagonize authority figures, especially policemen (or perhaps it's always the same policeman) and his brutal boss (Eurico Vieira). Then Sergio sees Joao (Andre Barbosa), a macho motorcyclist with no interest in Sergio's attentions. Undeterred, Sergio spies on Joao, keeps his discarded motorcycle gloves and steals a swimsuit from his trash, and eventually breaks into Joao's house and urinates on his bed, marking his territory like a dog. Already connected to conventional life by the flimsiest of ties, Sergio's obsession drives him more deeply into his internal world, where the rules of society don't apply and power, pain and pleasure are inescapably intertwined. He acquires a head-to-toe latex bodysuit that makes him look uncannily like sinister '60s pulp anti-hero Diabolik and allows him to blend into the darkness like a phantom. Now his night crawling has a single purpose: Revenge on Joao. The seriousness of first-time feature writer/director Joao Pedro Rodrigues's intent is evident: His leisurely long shots of the garbage collectors at work, the long dialogue-free sequences and surreal last half-hour, in which Sergio is reduced to subhuman existence in a vast dump, all suggest a world in which all human connections are tenuous, even the connection to one's own humanity. Though Rodrigues claims Robert Bresson as a primary influence (and cast entirely with non-professionals, as Bresson often did), his film is strikingly reminiscent of Eloy de la Iglesia's 1971 THE CANNIBAL MAN in its depiction of working class alienation erupting into violence. But while the transgressive trappings (especially the frank sex scenes) ensure that the film is never dull, Rodrigues's beast-within metaphor is ultimately rather silly and overwrought, making the ambiguous ending seem goofy rather than provocative.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A sexually explicit, hallucinatory fable of alienation and predation, in which a disenfranchised young man drifts inexorably into a fantasy world of anonymous liaisons and brutality. Feral, enigmatic Sergio (Ricardo Meneses), a nightshift garbage man, live… (more)

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