The Art of Dying Afar

Júlio Alves

IndieLisboa 2020 •

Portugal, Fiction, 2020, 90′

Adapting a novel by the Portuguese writer Mário de Carvalho, Júlio Alves (Sacavém, IndieLisboa 2019) gives a bittersweet comedy about conjugal relationships, separations and communication. Arnaldo (Miguel Nunes) and Bárbara (Ana Moreira) want to end their relationship. We don’t know the reason, but we know they share the “paternity” of a turtle. Who will stay with the turtle? Where would it want to go? In this push-play game, the animal goes its way.

On the verge of rupture, doubt always arises. Júlio Alves’ first feature film is an adaptation of a work by Mário de Carvalho, an author that Alves has revisited in some of his short films. Now the universe is that of human relationships; – in this case, a couple is separating and goes through the always painful process of knowing who gets what, what belongs to who, who leaves and who stays, who is ready to compromise. Things are apparently not so bad, but who gets the turtle? The structure of the film is very well defined with an elegant composition of plans (Alves knows very well how to film closed spaces, specifically houses), the actors (the duo Ana Moreira / Pedro Lacerda) are very well directed always on the verge of suffering/apathy, and the montage has a correct rhythm that allows us to have the right information at every moment. And from there, just look in the mirror, because Júlio Alves hits us right in the eye. (Miguel Valverde)