A serial Killer lives peacefully in Lisbon, until an incident turns him into a social media superstar. From the mind of one of the most exciting voices in contemporary Portugese cinema, Carlos Conceição, this film looks at how social media can radically change a narrative, as well as our connection to murderers in fiction and reality.
From the moment I pressed play, this film struck me as something special. I’d firstly like to touch on the cinematography as that’s what caught my eye initially. Pulled together by Vasco Viana, the way this film is shot and styled took me back in time, yet with the use of phones, we knew that we were in modern day. I think this film used time very interestingly to show how people have been committing sin from day one, and even though we have CCTV, people to take charge, it all still happens, and often right under our noses. The filming style, in a 4:3 format, and with a delicate colour palette (not forgetting the use of old film cameras either!), show us how often things like this are softened or even romanticized in modern productions, when they really shouldn’t be.
With no dialogue, this film can be received and understood by a global audience, as well as suggest that the people we see could be anyone. This choice was well made, really painting writer and director Carlos Conceição as someone to look out for. In a way, the people spoke through the soundtrack, produced by Hugo Leitão. Striking emotions in different ways, we were able to truly feel the buildup of the film, from the hunt to the kill in such a cool way. One of my favourite parts of the score was when it felt quite heavy, like there was a lot of white noise, but it sounded right. It helped sum up our feelings as an audience as well as what was happening to the characters on screen.
Talking about the characters, Matthieu Charneau, who played the serial killer, really was excellent. He took over the role in quite a sexy yet dangerous way, really adding to the style of murderer that we see on our screen, but also how even everyday people can be hiding a big secret. Having no line scan make a character difficult to understand, but the whole cast did the most amazing job in showing off these big personalites, just through body language and timing.
Looking more at the idea of the story and how social media plays a big part, I can understand how important but also how damaging it can be. We live in a world of cancel culture, judgement and trolling, all because we can hide behind a screen. It can be used to share wonderful, creative things, or even help when something goes wrong, but to know that people can use the power of free speech to spread hate and lies is such a scary concept. To think that the start of this film was painted in a way that felt quite alluring, but then when the truth comes out we know how people can turn their vision to something else and suddenly become as dangerous as the murderer, ruining lives onine.
At the end of the film, we see religion have its say on the events that have taken place. Kind of in a full circle way, the killer is taken in and kissed in reflection with what he did at the start of the film, and then he is killed. Seeing this from a few different angles, we know that karma has come for the murderer and the acts that he has committed have caught up with him. We also look again at the beauty that films like this often portray, having this final moment be heavenly, rather than nightmarish.
This has to be up there with one of the best independent films that I’ve ever seen. It felt like a work of art, but one filled with danger and worry. From the beautiful aesthetics to the true meaning of it all, I really recommend giving this a watch if you enjoy films about death and want to see it portrayed in a fresh way.