These two men definitely have the chops.
The film is rather like “The Manchurian Candidate” meets Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” with a touch of Hitch’s “The Lady Vanishes.” It’s a convoluted script and as in “The 39 Steps” and The Maltese Falcon” the secret is less important than the adventure.
The locations are exquisite. A vast castle that could easily be in the middle of England (perfect for a remake of “The Prisoner”series) and a dark gloomy submarine that could be anywhere from deepest Germany to the Hudson River.
The cinematography is beautiful: tension built with still actors and a moving camera, long takes,gorgeous pans and long tracking shots. The script is timely and intelligent, and Davi Santos as your hero or anti-hero (depending on your take) simply superb. The camera loves Santos. He is like a young Latin Montgomery Clift, but with less melancholy and a much buffer bod. He slides effortlessly between being terrifying and vulnerable. A very complex character that keeps you wondering and on your guard at all times.
O.K. Granted, I have a bias here.I have known Davi since he was a sophomore in High School. He was in a production of “Hair’ and I audibly gasped when I first saw him on stage (which prompted my daughter to elbow me sharply in the ribs and forever label me a cougar.) He is a lovely specimen and they just didn’t make boys like that when I was in high school in the 70’s when being pasty and rail thin was in. But aside from that, Davi is a lovely,gracious and humble young man who is as versatile as he is talented. I have seen his work on stage numerous times and he is consistently deeply committed and completely mesmerizing.
That being said, this first film is not without some kinks and some continuity glitches. The main character (Abraham) becomes an expert lip reader within minutes. Being mostly deaf, I struggle with lip reading on a daily basis, usually failing miserably and becoming a virtual Emily Litella from Saturday Night Live misreading cues much to the hilarity of others. It’s hard to imagine that this young man (Abraham) was able to be so accomplished immediately without even squinting or asking for a re-do once. But I can forgive that. Everyone on this film worked long hard hours on an incredibly tight budget and it is indeed a labour of love for all involved.
Watching his work, I am reminded of young Orson Welles who also accomplished the triple threat of being a writer, director and actor while still in his 20’s.(Citizen Kane is not too shabby for a first film) I see a future for this film too. Many things are ambiguous leaving it open for expansion, changes, even perhaps a prequel. But one thing for certain, is that Davi Santos’s star is on the rise. You can’t keep talent like this under wraps for long.