Eye For Film >> Movies >> Favula (2014) Film Review
Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten
If Favula can be said to have a plot, it centres on a heroine (Lucia Ozan) in the mold of a contemporary Snow White or Cinderella style fairy tale - put upon by the matriarch of the apparent family unit, she is then sold for nefarious purposes and must escape the clutches of sinister men. But that is too plain a description for the tropical fever dream constructed by Raúl Perrone - mainly wordless, its rich and abstract black and white imagery is held together by a hypnotic soundtrack rather than a formal narrative.
Set in a lush tropical jungle, there is an element of kitsch decoupage in the way the film layers image over image to saturation point with additional animated touches and quirks (there are some very lively dragonflies). The visuals take in a range of references - from early cinema in general, but specifically they also recall the films of Georges Méliès, the daydreaming sequences in Jean Vigo's L'Atalante (1934), and the Cottingley fairy photography (the 1917 incident in which two young girls managed to fake photographs of 'real' fairies). A more contemporary point of reference is Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her (2002) as the sexual content of one sequence seems a blatant 'homage' to Almodóvar's interpretation of silent cinema in that film.
The sense of saturation continues with the soundtrack, which layers sounds of water - heavy rain and the gurgling river - with the drum and bass emphasis of dub music mixed with electro-cumbia, and the occasional tiger's roar. The music is an intensely emotional force within the film, and effectively acts as an interpretive guide for the audience in relation to the images of poetic abstraction.
For the most part, these images are left wordless - the audio of dialogue that is present seems to be playing backwards, making it incomprehensible until subtitles begin to appear when the narrative requires verbal explanation. If anything, the introduction of coherent dialogue late in the film is the point at which it begins to unravel, as if the director didn't trust his own imagery to be able to draw the story to a close in combination with the music alone - but the sudden verbosity punctures the otherworldliness that has been maintained up until that point.
A visual oddity that struggles to find an ending, but well worth seeing for the delirious spell cast by the beauty of its images and the accompanying hypnotic soundscape.Reviewed on: 03 May 2015
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