Anton Yelchin, Lucie Lucas, Françoise Lebrun
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Two ex-pats living in Portugal share a sexually charged night of introspection in the second film from film critic turned filmmaker, Gabe Klinger.
Two ex-pats living in Portugal share a sexually charged night of introspection in the second film from film critic turned filmmaker, Gabe Klinger. Klinger’s first film was the James Benning/Richard Linklater documentary, Double Play, and Porto sees him tackling fiction for the first time. The late Anton Yelchin plays Jake, a jittery American who looks permanently weighed down by the large heart he wears on his sleeve. The object of his affection is Mati (Lucie Lucas), an older French archaeology student. Split into three chapters, Porto follows our leads as they recall their night together after what appears to be several years of it rattling around in their heads.
A heady blend of different aspect ratios and alternating film stock emphasise a dreamlike quality to our lovers’ recollections as, separately, they walk by the café where they once ate and remember their evening with subtle differences. Klinger’s film agrees their coupling is an intense moment of passion, but whilst Mati recalls a one-night stand without much of a future, Jake remembers a much deeper connection. The Hollywood stylised third act tries to reconcile both their recollections, which doesn’t go out of its way to clear matters up, but does display Klinger’s love for Linklater’s work, particularly his Before trilogy.
Almost rhythmic in its colour usage – drifting from warm to cold – Porto is a visceral and artistic piece offering a snapshot of two strangers connecting for one night. But, and it’s a big but, crack the emotive veneer and Porto struggles to maintain a solid narrative. We know little about our leads and learn even less as the story flip flops between the past and present to show us the aftermath of their dalliance. All of which, and despite Yelchin’s brilliant performance, makes Porto frustrating. In the moment of watching it, it’s easy to get caught up in it all, but when the dust has settled and thoughts return to break down what we’ve watched, it’s all too easy to remember it as a beautifully slight experience.