Costa interweaves home movies, audio diaries, interviews, and her own imperfect memories (she was only 7 years old at the time) into an achingly intimate family mystery. Before Costa strains for universality via a metaphorically overwrought coda, her ripe, incantatory visuals make an intensely inward film feel open and inviting.
Redolent of the authorial introspection one might recognize in Jennifer Reeves's The Time We Killed or Jem Cohen's Lost Book Found, Costa embraces the poetic and the nonliteral in this heartbreaking account of domestic trauma... While the film can feel wordy and over-scored, culminating in a modern dance sequence to an American song that effaces its cultural specificity, its melancholy is consistent and immersive.
Using archival footage of Elena in performance... Costa restores her sister to the world of art, to the scene of her love and torment. Their parents’ backstory—fusing cultural and political ambition with the currents of history—brings the action to the present day; Costa’s ritual of mourning, on both sides of the camera, fulfills the family’s cinematic dreams with a self-dramatizing flair.