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Home page > Review > Porfirio (16 May 2011)

Porfirio by Alejandro Landes

Colombia, Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, France (2011) - Directors’ Fortnight  

The plot outline of Porfirio, Alejandro Landes’ film premiering in Directors’ Fortnight, promises the story of a hijacker, a crippled victim of an ignorant society. Yet, what the Columbian filmmaker provides us with is the portrait of a restricted character, not only in the physical sense. Confined to a wheelchair, he lives a life of isolation disconnected from people. His home is not only empty of furniture, but also seems to lack compassion. Porfirio Ramírez seems a burden even to his own family.

Imagine you had lost the ability to move, if sitting up, getting washed, or turning to the other side in bed had become an arduous action. Porfirio’s days elapse in emptiness, in complete immobility. The Columbian director presents his life without veils: the episodic structure is often filled with explicit naturalism. The many social implications at the background slowly and subtly emerge, while the everyday challenges of the protagonist make us face a different perspective on life.

Porfirio is an intriguing mixture of feature film and documentary. The character of the protagonist emerged from news headlines, and the real Porfirio is playing in the dramatised version of his own life story. Landes’ point of view is impartial, yet revealing. He is strenuously observing the protagonist as he is denuding himself. The unbiased nature of his acting reveals the true Porfirio for us, and the plan of a violent escape evolves in front of our eyes. His final act may not break him out of his confinement, yet it resolves the tension that the film built up in us, almost unnoticed, and gives us a sense of relief.

By Patrícia Veszprémi (Hungary)

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