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I’ve just watched the movie version of Um Copo de Cólera, by Raduan Nassar.

It was painful to see the the way it was put to film, the shallow attempt to translate the strength of the book into something different. At some points i could not stand it and walked away.

The mess of feelings in the book was turned into a stupid story intermingled with some reciting of book passages. And the story part was made into classy porn. The actors are laughing during the bitter discussions their characters stage. The two have twisted and very scholastic arguments, but the actors do not even come close to resembling having just thought those things in the heat of the moment. They actually sound like someone proud to be using words of such sophistication.

One of the strengths of the book is exactly presenting the internal life of the guy (and not, ever, the girl) very richly and viscerally. How to do that in a film? It is assumed, mostly, that in a book everything is, by default, part of the inner life: a thought, a perception, a feeling. In the film just the contrary seem to be true, as everything is assumed to be a faithful depiction of reality. Everyone knows that there are countless tricks one can do with a camera to produce images that do not actually exist, and that words can be objective and matter-of-fact, but it’s like those are ways to bend the internal tendencies of each media. That except in cases where something is explicitly stating that it is not the case, the viewer can safely bet that the movie is being objective and the book subjective.

How to make inner life in film? This movie’s answer seem to be monologue with a different background intermingled with the story. In a way it works, it transmits the message, but i still think that it has no depth, that it is a poor alternative. The brief instant in the movie where the guy is chasing the ants shows a different approach, a shot from under his chin while he is making a (passable) enraged face, and running.

It is much less obvious. And it also has richer readings. Somehow, it seems to me that words on a page accept more readings than the exact same words read aloud with a specific background and an actor with facial expression and tone of voice.

Maybe that is what bugs me in the way this movie tries to convey the inner lives of the characters — it can only be read one way.

Then again, stating a clear message is not a bad thing.The advantage of the text cannot be that it expresses less, therefore leaving more to the imagination. Just to the contrary, it must be that it expresses more, having a richer reading.

Otherwise, a book would be better than it’s film version to smart persons and worse to dumb ones, for the dumb ones would only fill the blanks with garbage. But the fact is that the book is generally considered better even by dumb people — those dumbs prefer the film in that they do not have the stamina to finish the book, but once one does finish the book, even not having an ounce of imagination in their whole being, he prefers the book.

But in what sense do a movie (which has a face, a tone of voice, a specific light condition, a haircut to the character, patterns in the clothes, and all those things we see even if we do not notice) can be said to express less than a book?

That has gotten seriously out of hand, as i was trying to make only a review of the movie, and i will not delve deeper onto that for now, but this one is a very interesting question.

The acting was, to my opinion, soapy (and Globo-esque). I do not dislike Julia Lemmertz (though i fear i cannot say the same for Alexandre Borges), but their performances lacked transparency in the typographical sense — it attracted attention to the performance itself, not to the story being performed.

Finally, i saw the movie in a TV show called “women in movies”, but to me the story is strictly about a man, it is told in his point of view, and the woman in there is what-is-not-the-man, rather than being a movie about a woman.

I will admit that much of my distaste might come from an unjustifiable purism, but i hated the movie version of Um Copo de Cólera.


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