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Between Valleys

Dir: Philippe Barcinski. Brazil. 2012. 79mins

Philippe Barcinski’s gently beautiful drama Between Valleys (Entre vales) is strong on striking visuals but lacks the dramatic bite to lift out of the art film bracket. The film, which had its world premiere at the Rio Film Festival, has the qualities to appeal to other film festivals, though sales are likely to be limited.

There is something oddly compelling about cinematographer Walter Carvalho’s stunning visuals in amidst the piles of human detritus.

At heart it is the story of a successful businessman who loses the meaning for his life after his son dies, but Barcinski uses this slender storyline to dwell on the fickle nature of life. The storyline switches back and forth in time as its charts the man’s emotional descent, and while intriguing it rarely manages to be emotionally gripping.

Vicente (Angelo Antonio) and his dentist wife, Marina (Melissa Vettore), have drifted apart, though their young son Caio (Matheus Restiffe) is keener on his father’s company than his mother. The boy has a fatal accident during a field trip, and Vicente completely life falls apart.

Vicente’s company has been building a new garbage dump, and Barcinski uses the impressive backdrops of the heaps of rubbish as the place where the almost comatose Vicente heads as he struggles to deal with Caio’s death. Only as he becomes one with the piles of rubbish does Vicente begin to start to become human again.

There is something oddly compelling about cinematographer Walter Carvalho’s stunning visuals in amidst the piles of human detritus, and while the characters are thinly drawn (Melissa Vettore’s character is vague at the very least) at least Vicente’s descent into a garbage hell is beautifully staged.

Production companies: Polo de Imagem, Aurora Filmes, Degrau Filmes, Cordon Films, Augenschein Filmproduktion

Producers: Malu Viana Batista, Andre Montenegro, Rui Pires, Philippe Barcinski

Co-producers: Micaela Sole, Luciana Dolabella, Jonas Katzenstein, Maximilian Leo, Angelo Antonio

Executive producers: Andre Montenegro, Malu Viana Batista Screenplay: Fabiana Werneck Barcinski, Philippe Barcinski

Cinematography: Walter Carvalho

Editor: Leopoldo Joe Nakata

Production designer: Marcos Pedroso

Music: Rica Amabis, Luca Raele, Tejo Damasceno

Main cast: Angelo Antonio, Melissa Vettore, Daniel Hendler, Ines Peixoto, Matheus Restiffe

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