NYFF 2018 Review: “Diamantino” (2018) ★★★★


We do not often get to see movies made about world famous soccer players. We know they’re cool, run fast and are exceptionally talented on the field. But what about off the field? What are they? Who are they? Are they smart, funny or clueless? We can guess all day long and even pass through the night arguing all about it, but I doubt we can get any closer to what has generously been offered by co-directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt.

What do we really need to keep us interested throughout a movie? Well, it needs to be funny, close to reality, well acted, and even directed. Does it need to have a combination of politics and dark humour? Luckily, “Diamantino” has all that and not just. And that ‘not just’ was simply a beginning that will shake any sane and even insane brain.

Carloto Cotta’s Diamantino is a famous Portuguese player and the nation’s only hope to win them the world cup final match against Sweden. It’s 1-0 and Sweden is ahead. Now Diamantino is the only one who can tie the game and maybe get the win afterwards, but the penalty shot he gets is missed. Being shamed, disgraced and turned into the nation’s nightmare they all want to forget, Diamantino is not aware of the quest expected of him down the road, where he becomes a target of investigation in money laundering, an excellent subject for cloning, and an interesting confrontation with neo-fascism and refugee crisis.

After his dearest father and his manager die during the final match, Diamantino is left in the hands of his evil twin sisters, Sonia and Natasha (Anabela and Margarida Moreira) who sign a contract with the Ministry of Propaganda to clone their brother’s genius as the only hope to help Portugal to not be forgotten by the rest of the world. Diamantino agrees to such an experimental trial but the most important fact of this experiment was hidden from him – it has a side effect.

“Diamantino” manages to have a few references to Donald J. Trump’s agenda of building a tougher wall to protect the country from the refugee flow and making Portugal great again by winning a world cup, as if Portugal has nothing else to offer. Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s movie is the weirdest social satire you will ever see. In fact, it’s not even easy to describe it. It’s funny, intelligent, has a crazy mix of everything that disturbs our world, yet we are somehow unable to process it over the course of the movie, because it’s too true to be ignored and too painful to accept.

In conclusion, “Diamantino” may trigger much discussion around it, but laughter will be even more. It’s extremely entertaining and absolutely fan to watch. As for the performance, it is indeed quite solid. But it’s the subject matter that will find itself in a win-win situation because we need more challenging movies, broader concepts and something that can puzzle us in a way “Diamantino” does.

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