Eveything Solid Disintegrates into Thin Air

by Renato Guimarães


A train crosses the city. "It’s already the second time", says the woman who is watching a group of barefoot children play soccer in the cobblestone street outside her window. In the distance, a boatman crosses the river. The frenetic movement of the looms does not stop. This little city in the heart of Minas Gerais is the anchor of Redemoinho , José Luiz Villamarim’s first full-length film. The plot begins when two friends, meeting again after many years, enter into a deep conversation full of memories, heartache and things not said.

Through the use of beautifully framed shots in which the characters are framed and essentially imprisoned, Villamarim and director of photography Walter Carvalho create a sense of tension and mystery that is present throughout the film. The camera allows us to spy on these lives through a door left ajar and between the grates on a window, and Redemoinho takes on the quality of a thriller about remorse and how certainty can disintegrate into thin air.

The precise pace and art direction that makes us feel the weight of the daily lives portrayed draw our attention away from the predictability of the script, the lack of depth of character development, and the feeling that we’ve already seen this story. The fragility of the content is, however, masked by the beauty of the form.

As the film reaches the pinnacle, and moves toward the conclusion, we realize that the film is simply a grand exercise in creating atmosphere. At one point, not even the good cast (Irandhir Santos, Julio Andrade, Dira Paes and Cássia Kis Magro) are able to manage the plot and go beyond the stereotyping of their characters. When, in one of the last scenes, Irandhir’s character says that, “that’s life,” we find ourselves in the space between poetry and the void. Redemoinho is something like this: it has strength and beauty but doesn’t fulfil the promise of its narrative.