Arabian Nights: Volume 1 - The Restless Ones

Arabian Nights: Volume 1 - The Restless Ones

Miguel Gomes (2015)

125min
15 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Recalling themes and techniques he explored and employed in Our Beloved Month of August (2008) and Tabu (2012), Miguel Gomes's 361-minute Arabian Nights trilogy is a laudably ambitious, occasionally scrappy but deceptively perceptive snapshot of recessional Portugal. Blending factual and fictional elements and drawing on actual news stories for the yarns related by Scheherazade (Crista Alfaiate), the picture begins with accounts of the protests against the closure of the Viana do Castelo shipyard and the impact of an infestation of Asian wasps on the local bee population. But, after Gomes cameos as a director fleeing a project because he doesn't know how to make its disparate pieces fit together, the focus shifts to the Island of Young Virgins in Baghdad, as Scheherazade relates her first three tales. The satirical intent is clear in The Men with Hard-ons, which sees various Portuguese dignitaries and representatives of the Troika receive permanent erections from a wizard while negotiating some ruinous budget cuts. The mood is similarly playful in The Story of the Cockerel and the Fire, as a rooster running for mayor in a small town is charged with crowing too early, while a young girl involved in a texting ménage becomes a rural arsonist after her boyfriend falls for a firewoman. But Gomes returns to the trenchancy of the prologue in The Swim of the Magnificents, in which four people planning to participate in a traditional New Year's Day swim tell a trade union official about their struggle to survive without work, while their mayor wonders how to remove a beached whale that threatens to disrupt the festivities. Individually, the stories amuse rather than enthral, while some of the more self-reflexive gambits fall flat. But this is an enterprise that needs to be viewed in its entirety in order to appreciate the depth of Portugal's malaise and the bold brilliance of Gomes's conceit.

Cast & Crew

Miguel Gomez Miguel Gomes
Scheherazade / Punk Maria Crista Alfaiate
Luís Adriano Luz
Translator Carloto Cotta
Prime Minister Rogério Samora
Wizard Basirou Diallo
Prostitute Luísa Cruz
Director Miguel Gomes
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Other Information

Language: Portuguese, English, French, German, Mandarin +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: New Wave FilmsGuidance: Swearing, sexual references.Released on: 22 Apr 2016