Meu Tio Matou um Cara (2004)

“Meu Tio Matou um Cara” (2004)


description layer

Narrative is the soul of a film, isn’t it? Even when that near evidence is contested by the filmmaker, we seem to want to find a story wherever. Is that hardwired in our imagination? is it a cultural acquisition? It’s meaningless. We do find stories, and that is important if we want to understand where most of our art comes from.

Cinema is, so far, the ultimate narrative medium, the one where the deepest transformations have been invested, in terms of storytelling, narrative invention, etc. That’s because cinema is a conglomerate of other activities, with millenniums of existence, plus the power of moving image, something always wished, but never achieved until cinema appeared (some cave paintings already tried to replicate movement!).

So, if you are serious in seeing films, and understanding the medium, you have to wonder about how the story of storytelling evolved. Some names are fundamental. Others not so much. Jorge Furtado is one of this latest. He’s is relatively unknown outside Brazil, but I do think that anyone should be exposed to his work. He is one of the most clever film writers ever. I mean ever. More than 20 years ago, while still not making features, Furtado created a memorable short piece, Ilha das Flores. There he picked up on something Welles had been doing in the 70′, and thinking about it since the 50′. What has been commonly known as “film-essay” is where Furtado left advertising and entered cinema. And he hasn’t left that world ever since, having written golden pages and pushed the medium a huge leap ahead. That’s how much I admire his work, how much i take him into consideration.

This film is another exercise in narrative layering, narrative stance, and self-reference. All in one. We start with a regular story, here about a supposed murder. This story is already filled of versions, which we get to know as the film develops. The uncle’s version is full of gaps, and we get successive evolutions to the initial statement “I killed a guy”. Than, Furtado centers the film on a character, stranger to this main storyline that we pitched. We hear the inner voice of that character. He’ll be our designated detective, our surrogate on-screen. But that voice never narrates what we see. Instead it comments on what we see, intersecting it and mixing it with outside references, filmic or not. A voice that comments on the main story and its characters. So that’s 2 layers now, one of them purely self-referential. Add to it the story of this narrator character, something to do with teenage (mis)adventures and love stories. Now it’s a third story, a third layer, which will punctually intersect the first one, and even overlap it from a certain moment on. The second layer, that of the inner voice, is all around, soaking the other two and how we watch the film.

**spoilers** The convincing ending (from a cinematic point of view) comes out of the successful overlapping of all the layers, to allow for a funny (from genre’s point of view) conclusion, which is itself highly self-referential: what gives away the whole plot is a set of photographs, who reveal both Kid and Soraia. Those photographs, documenting an event we never actually see except by glimpses, given to us after the conclusion, have an order that matters and tells a story, a 4th narrative layer that concludes the other 2. There’s a funny side play with the photos, that tell a different story when its order is changed, thus helping the uncle to maintain his status as an idiot.

As a film, for what it means, this is pretty superficial, even meaningless. Funny and juicy, but not deep. As cinematic exercise in narrative layering, this is truly powerful, as anything conceived by Furtado.

My opinion: 4/5


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