This piece was written for Reverse Shot's 'Take Five: Reverse Shot in Space' symposium.
Lust for Life
“I will be dust, but dust in love.” —João de Deus, God’s Wedding
João César Monteiro’s final film, Come and Go (2003), begins with a brief tracking shot. Moving left and at a slightly convex angle, the camera traces the contour of a large fountain at the center of an outdoor park as the director walks, in character, across a concrete clearing, dropping a pound of uncooked liver at his feet for a group of gathered pigeons. In and of itself, the shot, a modest flourish by any measure, is nothing spectacular. But in the context of the film—and further, in wider consideration of Monteiro’s late period work, in which he systematically worked to eliminate superfluous gestures—it proves rather startling. At only one other juncture, at well over two hours into this nearly three-hour film, does Monteiro move his camera—and even then, it’s as a circular pan around a church courtyard, position firmly planted. In fact, save for a subtle zoom or two, the film’s frame will remain fixed for nearly the entirety of its running time.