Starring Carloto Cotta. In Portuguese, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable
Reviewing the classic 1969 comedy The Bed Sitting Room, Pauline Kael beefed that the film's relentless surrealism was more likely to produce a saturnine rictus of admiration than any actual laughs. She was wrong in that case, but the sentiment might apply to this Portuguese effort. Made by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, Diamantino arrived at Cannes last year as a tooth-grindingly "original" satire on right-wing populism and gender politics, thereby flattering progressive-minded critics into instant submission.
A Cristiano Ronaldo-like national soccer hero until he blows a penalty kick at the World Cup, childlike Diamantino (Carloto Cotta, Tabu) is courted by dark political forces promising to rehabilitate his image. Really, he's being used to propagandize Portugal's Pexit from the EU, but Diamantino is too thick and/or innocent to understand the downside to declaring "Make Portugal great again" in a TV commercial.Meanwhile, our simple-minded hero's fantastically luxurious world has been infiltrated by lesbian revenue agents trying to track his byzantine banking practices, one of whom (Cleo Tavares) disguises herself as a Mozambican migrant boy rescued from a boat.
Diamantino's super-cunty twin sisters are also up to no good, and so is another secret government agency that wants to clone the hapless athlete—with unintended side effects.
So, yes, here's a movie very satisfied with its own zaniness.
But it's not like Diamantino doesn't yield pleasures along the way, with a design palette in gleeful cahoots with the kind of saturated HD video kitsch we associate with bad European TV, and an immensely charming performance by Cotta as the Candide-like phenom. He also happens to look great in or out of his clothes, notwithstanding those aforementioned medical side effects. As such, all of the sinister plots levelled against Diamantino backfire, eventually resolving into what appears to be a platonic vision of race- and gender-cancelling transhumanism.
That might be considered delightful by anyone who hasn't really thought this thing through as some sort of argument against growing global fascism, but Silicon Valley psychopaths and the pharmaceutical industry should feel encouraged. In any case, consider it all edgy and current enough to get Twitter excited.