Two Drifters

Less surreal but just as bizarre as Portuguese director Joao Pedro Rodrigues feature debut, O FANTASMA (2000), this tale of obsession and loss revolves around a man descending into suicidal despair after losing his lover and woman unhinged by her desire for a child. Shortly after college student Pedro (Joao Carreira) and bartender Rui (Nuno Gil) celebrate...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Less surreal but just as bizarre as Portuguese director Joao Pedro Rodrigues feature debut, O FANTASMA (2000), this tale of obsession and loss revolves around a man descending into suicidal despair after losing his lover and woman unhinged by her desire for a child. Shortly after college student Pedro (Joao Carreira) and bartender Rui (Nuno Gil) celebrate their one-year anniversary with identical commitment rings inscribed "two drifters," Pedro dies in a car crash. Elsewhere in Lisbon, supermarket clerk Odete (model Ana Cristina de Oliveira) throws out her boyfriend, Alberto (Carloto Cotto), when he resists her increasingly strident demands that he make her pregnant. On an impulse, Odete follows Teresa (Teresa Madruga), a widowed neighbor she barely knows, to what turns out to be her son Pedro's wake. Odete lingers until she spots an opportunity to surreptitiously steal Pedro's ring. She also attends his funeral and makes a world-class scene, wailing like a banshee and hurling herself onto the coffin. Odete, who's had Pedro's ring resized for her own finger, later appears at the grieving Teresa's door and claims to be pregnant with Pedro's child. Meanwhile, Rui worries his friends by drinking relentlessly and retreating into his apartment to watch and re-watch BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, his and Pedro's favorite movie. Odete stops going to work, forges checks to buy expensive baby accessories and haunts Pedro's grave; her persistence — and the evidence of her swelling belly — eventually wear down the lonely Teresa's resistance, and she lets Odete move into Pedro's room. Odete proceeds to cut her hair short, starts wearing Pedro's clothes and torments Rui with late-night phone calls. The melodramatic trials Rodrigues devises for his loopy characters would be more compelling if they weren't such ciphers: Why Odete behaves as she does is anyone's guess, and while the reason for Rui's grief is clear, the depth of his relationship with Pedro must be taken on faith. Though the film contains many haunting images, the absence of a solid emotional foundation makes its increasingly preposterous story developments feel arbitrary and ultimately pointless.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Less surreal but just as bizarre as Portuguese director Joao Pedro Rodrigues feature debut, O FANTASMA (2000), this tale of obsession and loss revolves around a man descending into suicidal despair after losing his lover and woman unhinged by her desire fo… (more)

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