Our Beloved Month of August Screen 11 articles

Our Beloved Month of August

2008

Our Beloved Month of August Poster
  • Clocking in at about 150 minutes, Our Beloved Month of August’s lack of a clear focus is both its best asset and Gomes’ worst indulgence. The film is peppered with magically languid sequences that have the requisite spontaneity and spark of humanist interrogation to make them frank and unflinching. But eventually you just wish Gomes would turn the camera off and go back to the drawing board.

  • Part of a generation of cinegeeks that views real-versus-reel blurring as their God-given aesthetic right, Gomes is clearly having fun mixing a Mondo Portugal portrait with meta-pranksterism. Which doesn’t mean that August never devolves into a shambling mess; despite its creator’s puckish charm, the movie occasionally sputters and detours down dead ends.

  • Seemingly haphazard, Beloved Month winds up an artfully contrived Möbius Strip. In the movie's emo climax, the lead actress seamlessly segues from apparent tears to hysterical laughter. Is she in or out of character? For all the plot turns and character shifts, that's the real twist. Gomes, too, has it both ways: It's impossible to decide whether life imposed itself upon his scenario, or vice versa.

  • If Our Beloved Month of August comes across as too improvisational and hazy it's because you get the feeling Gomes found more interest in the brilliantly heightened state of the actual people rather than the characters they wanted to create. This approach opens the film and environment up for much consideration and appreciation.

  • The film matches its form to its subject in a startlingly rich way: in this film about music and family (as well as about itself), what counts as liberatory is not the wall that shut things in and gives them an illusory fixity and identity, but the fluctuating experience that happens when people “assemble and disperse” (as they literally do, dancing, in a long-held early image), and when the wind is mobilised, calmed and unleashed by the ‘soft machine’ of cinema.

  • For all its self-referential complexity, this is also a tender and perceptive portrait of a richly ordinary enclosed world. The film’s interest in unspectacular but intriguing everyday people... has much in common, in a far more artificed way, with Raymond Depardon’s series Profils paysans. At the same time, Gomes’ indeterminate melding of reality and fictional game-playing is closer to the mountain-set DIY comedies of Luc Moullet, or Andrew Kötting’s round-Britain travelogue Gallivant.

  • While this film-within-a-film seems to follow at least partially the premise of the original script... it derives an unforeseen richness from our understanding of the real-life genesis of the shoot and the ways in which subtle details drawn from local custom creep into and fundamentally shape the emergent work of art—a piece of work which, for all its high level of execution, represents only a fraction of Gomes' stunning achievement.

  • The omnivorous scope of OUR BELOVED MONTH OF AUGUST lends itself to endless descriptors: it's a mammoth, sentimental ouroboros, a travelogue to get lost in, an indigenous film created by tourists. It's also a window into the creative process as frank and self-effacing as one could hope for in any medium.

  • One of the most striking director debuts in recent memory is Our Beloved Month of August, the first feature by Portugal’s Miguel Gomes. Part of what makes it so remarkable is the near-disastrous predicament in which it was made.

  • [Gomes' Our Beloved Month of August and Tabu] inform each other in surprising ways; the new film suggests the hidden weight of history that Gomes was trying to extract from daily minutiae in “Our Beloved Month of August,” which, in turn, highlights the open-ended, frame-breaking audacity of “Tabu.” He’s only forty, and is one of the world’s best, most original filmmakers. I’m deeply impatient to see what he’ll do next.

  • [The climax is] a magnificent breaking of character just after the pathos payload, tears giving way to a smile that knocks down all the walls of the movie. It’s a little like Inland Empire that way, but where David Lynch shows us the horror of self-consciousness, Gomes lets us see the absurdity, every step of the way.

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