Casa de Lava Screen 4 articles

Casa de Lava

1994

Casa de Lava Poster
  • ...If one combines this struggle with Costa’s uncanny and always evolving talent for composition and color, the overall aspiration resembles both what Godard has called “the definitive by chance” and the fusion of fiction and documentary sought and found by Kiarostami... Casa de Lava may be the film of Costa’s that poses the most constant and furious tug of war in his oeuvre between Hollywood narrative and the portraiture of both places and people, staging an almost epic battle between the two.

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    Film Comment: Ela Bittencourt
    November 03, 2017 | November/December 2017 Issue (p. 75)

    In Pedro Costa's melancholy, visually stark Casa de Lava, set amid the rocky volcanic landscape of Cape Verde, a young Portuguese nurse, Mariana (Inês de Medeiros), brings home an injured, unconscious construction worker, Leão (Isaach de Bankolé) . . . While Tourneur's noir [I Walked with a Zombie] ascribed exoticism to the locals, Costa wisely suggests that those who deny passion or the present, including the willful Mariana and Edite, are the real living dead.

  • Costa would gradually fine-tune his approach over his next few features, moving not only from formal 35mm compositions to the more abstract possibilities of video, but also from a white European point of view to that of Cape Verdean immigrants who fill his Fontainhas-set films. Even here, however, Costa's gifts and ambition can be plainly seen, and the film's enduring hypnotic power makes it a crucial entry in his filmography.

  • The action is hauntingly cryptic. Mariana’s motives and actions resist easy interpretation, although Ms. Medeiros, an actress with many expressions who, for most of the movie, wears the same outfit (a short, flimsy red tunic), is never less than convincing. Her vivid presence is matched by that of Cape Verde’s volcanic landscape. Few movies have a stronger sense of place — or placelessness. The narrative is ravishingly tangled.

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