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Gabriel Abrantes Daniel Schmidt Diamantino


Diamantino | Review

Diamantino | Review

Politicizing Camp: Abrantes & Schmidt Post a Win with Imaginative Soccer Satire

After a decade decade working in the short experimental form, festival faves Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt provide a love story that would outrage admirers of all things classic. Diamantino is stuck between science fiction and a politically self-aware comedy, this is a fine contemporary piece of camp cinema. Borrowing from pop culture and its ready-made clichés, this is a satirical reinterpretation of soccer megastar Cristiano Ronaldo, the incredibly naive and ignorant world-class player and Portugal’s darling.

During a reenacted 2018 FIFA World Cup, Diamantino misses a penalty which means disgrace to his country, and a career-threatening blow for himself. His last appearance on the field is followed by a series of events worthy of A-list camp films such as Roger Vadim’s Barbarella (1968) or Mike Sarne’s Myra Breckinridge (1970): anything from Diamantino’s malefic twin sisters secretly selling off their brother to a right-wing political party planning to clone him for propaganda purposes, a lesbian couple sent from the secret services to spy on our star, huge fluffy dogs appearing on the pitch, as well as Diamantino’s adoption of a refugee boy who is actually one of the women spy in disguise.

A small part of Susan Sontag’s legacy is the fact that film theorists, and thinkers at large, consider camp apolitical. Nevertheless, time has proven that her Notes on Camp (1964) is not evergreen, with filmmakers such as Paul Verhoeven pushing their camp sensibility towards the realm of the political. And now the same goes for Abrantes and Schmidt, who retain their campy tone while exploring the political subtext of Diamantino, starting of course with the right-wing political leaders who borrow their language and ideas from a certain American president in a very populist, hilarious campaign encouraging Portuguese people to participate in a ‘Leave the EU’ referendum. Cultural landmarks like the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the refugee crisis and the anti-EU sentiment all address the recent political sensitivities inside and outside Europe, generously wrapping them in satire.

Equally strong in the political discourse of the film is its queer after-taste. The film’s funniest moments find him immersed in beauty routines that should validate his masculinity, even if he’s not really aware of what masculinity is, rather being content with replicating ready-made social norms of the metrosexual. When asked about his sexual preferences, he doesn’t really understand the question. The power dynamics between him and his sisters mock the patriarchal family model, as they often insult him using gay-bashing words. Pansexuality is in the air and, as a secondary effect of being cloned later in the story, Diamantino comes to embody intersexuality too. The queer discourse at the heart of the story reduces all norms to absurdity, by repeatedly questioning the status-quo and the terminology we use to label ‘deviations’.

Diamantino’s candid voice-over adds a bonus layer of humor to this ode to green screens and green pitches. The experimental tone positions the film in the camp sensibility, in a way that interrogates the strict social constructs of good and bad taste. The chroma key aesthetics, for example, is miles away from pursuing authenticity, and the charm of the film stays right there, too. By mastering the use of pop-culture elements, Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt have created a very particular universe, a dystopia whose characters are smaller-than-life but, nevertheless, sounding the alarm for today’s political landscape.

Reviewed on October 17th at the 2018 Warsaw International Film Festival – Free Spirit Competition. 92 Mins.


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