Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Ricardo Meneses, Beatriz Torcato, Andre Barbosa, Eurico Vieira, Joaquim Oliveira
Director: João Pedro Rodrigues
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
No one can live without love . . . By day, brooding, lonely Sergio works as a trash collector in the streets of Lisbon. By night, Sergio embarks on an increasingly intense odyssey of random, anonymous sexual encounters. ... more »
A Bizarre Tale of Obsession and De Clerambault's Syndrome
M. Hart | USA | 03/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 2000, João Pedro Rodrigues directed and co-wrote a dark and unusual film entitled "O Fantasma" ("Phantom" in English). The film's protagonist is a young man named Sérgio (Ricardo Meneses), who works as a garbage collector in Lisbon, Portugal usually during the predawn hours. Sérgio lives alone and has very few friends (which are mostly his coworkers), but identifies with a dog named Lorde. He is also obsessed with having casual, gratuitous sex with anonymous men, which never seems to satisfy him. One morning, while collecting trash from a private home, Sérgio meets a very attractive and muscular man named João (André Barbosa) working on his motorcycle and is immediately attracted to him. Unfortunately, João, who lives with his mother (Maria Paola Porru), becomes the object of obsession for Sérgio, who begins to unrepentantly stalk him. This and several other actions by Sérgio are symptoms of a mental disorder known as De Clerambault's Syndrome, which causes Sérgio to enter an increasingly delusional, animalistic and predatory state of mind.Filmed mostly at night, the cinematography in "O Fantasma" is usually dark, colorless and surreal. This adds to the feelings of inner darkness and loneliness that Sérgio experiences as his obsessions slowly destroy his ability to interact with others and transforms him into the anonymous, shadowy phantom wearing a tight, black, all-encompassing costume like a comic book antihero. Other memorable characters in the film include Sérgio's coworker Fátima (Beatriz Torcata), his boss Virgilio (Enrico Vieira), Mário (Joaquim Oliveira), Matos (Florindo Lourenço) and the two police officers (Jorge Almeida and João Rui Guerra da Mata, who also did the art direction and costume design in the film). Overall, I rate "O Fantasma" with 4 out of 5 stars. Clearly, the film isn't for everyone, but it was directed and acted well."
M. Hart | 11/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, let me say I am giving this completely unorthodox film four stars because I can't stop thinking about it. I'm not really sure I liked it, but I will say it is pretty daring in its approach to what can loosely be called "storytelling." There is very little dialogue, so we don't learn much about the characters, particularly Sergio, the central character, by what they say. Their actions are the primary sources of information into their unusual psyches. Sergio, a very attractive but deeply disturbed young man, is in the midst of a psychological meltdown, but I don't think his bizarre behaviour fully explains what is going on deep in his soul. The minimalist approach of the filmmaker in depicting Sergio's descent seems intent on providing slightly less information than we need to know. Perhaps the idea of this approach is to leave viewers in the dark just enough to be haunted by the film's imagery long after it is over. Maybe this film is an indictment of promiscuous gay sex, but then again, maybe it's an endorsement. I say this because there is an insidiously sexy edge to this work that snuck up on me and wouldn't let go. It's both seductive and repulsive at the same time. A very interesting, but perhaps not altogether successful endeavor. Yet, I highly recommend it!"
A Bizarre yet Uniquely Pungent View of Obsession
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"O FANTASMA is not a movie for the casual audience. This dark and seamy vision of sexual confusion is almost unremittingly harrowing, but director Joao Pedro Rodriques drives his vision of a young lad (who lives on the periphery of society and longs to be wanted and loved, even in the 'forbidden world' of same sex attraction) from reality to surreality. Metaphors abound: the hero works in garbage disposal on the night shift - a stance that sums up the world's view of his persona. Apparently the actor Ricardo Meneses was selected for the lead simply on the basis of his presence and his animal appeal. This is a rich performance of a boy with an approach/avoidance to his sexuality and Meneses is unafraid to bear it all in his portrayal of passion on the edge. The drive for sexual gratification is dark, sensuous, and bordering on dangerous. His eventual transformation as a 'comic book-like' predator seems natural in the way both director and actor drive this story to its inevitable ending. The film is VERY dark photographically (it is afterall intended to be a night drama) and while this technique matches the message, it is difficult at times to visualize the action. The noisy musical scoring becomes almost unbearable at times. But despite these reservations O FANTASMA suggests the debut of a remarkable diretorial talent and certainly gives heed to a major screen presence in Ricardo Meneses! Not for everyone, but for those with an eye for something original then try this little film. In Portuguese with subtitles."
Powerful and uncompromising
M. FUSCO | NEW YORK, NY | 03/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Portuguese director Joao Pedro Rodriguez has created a film of austere beauty and sinewy power, dark and brooding like its striking protagonist. Ricardo Meneses, as the sensual, very sexual Sergio, gives a truly astonishing performance - especially considering his youth and inexperience, the nature of the material, and that this was his first and, I'm sorry to say, only film. Sergio is a lithe, muscular young garbage collector working the graveyard shift in Lisbon, but all we see of the city are its fringes. He roams forsaken moonscapes (the dumping grounds), jungle-like parks, forsaken roads. Sergio's compulsions and the force of his lust are reflected in these primitive terrains, and manifested in the increasing aberrance of his sexual behavior. The action takes place almost entirely indoors, or outside in darkness and shadow. There is, symbolically, only one moment of sunlight in the entire film when a magnificent Sergio stands, his lean body beautifully and boldly bare, on the roof of his pensione.
Ricardo Meneses, who was born to play this extraordinary part, is sensuous, narcissistic, exhibitionistic, and profoundly sexy. Mr. Rodriguez draws us into Sergio's life like voyeurs as the camera follows him, drinking in his flawless feline form as he showers, swims, admires and touches himself, prowls his habitat, has sex (with his girlfriend, his lover, his boss, a policeman, tricks), and stalks a handsome swimmer with whom he becomes obsessed. It is this last ephemeral human connection - one awkward gesture towards a world with sun - that dooms the boy. Sergio quietly asks his paramour for help and is coldly rebuffed. He becomes ever more animalistic, spiraling unremittingly downward. The tragedy which ensues is startling and seductive, like Sergio himself."