By Gregg Shapiro
It’s a safe bet that you’ve never seen anything quite like “Diamantino” (Kino Lorber), the bizarre feature film debut of co-writers/co-directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt. A surreal and fantastical comedy about star footballer Diamantino Matamouros (the sizzling Carloto Cotta who, thankfully, spends much of the movie in various states of undress), who is unwittingly recruited to help in a nationalist plot to have Portugal leave the E.U.
Opening with a hilarious disclaimer and featuring the naïve narration of the titular character, “Diamantino” compares a soccer stadium to the Sistine Chapel, declaring the most beautiful art created today is being made on the soccer field and that Diamantino is the sport’s Michelangelo. His work is sublime, giving the fans faith and a transcendent experience.
The fans aren’t the only ones transported when Diamantino plays. The player himself is regularly wrapped up in a fantasy in which the field is awash with pink fog and giant, fluffy Pekingese dogs (that only he can see) assist him in scoring goals. Diamantino may have a flawless man’s body, but he’s basically a child. We see this most clearly in his relationship with his father, who is also a kind and giving person. He doesn’t let his son’s wealth and success cloud his judgement when it comes to helping others. Once, while sailing on Diamantino’s yacht, they offered aid to a raft full of refugees.
Sadly, Diamantino’s good fortune is not meant to last. Distracted by the experience with the refugees, including a mother who lost her child while at sea, Diamantino misses a goal during the World Cup final. To add insult to injury, his evil twin sisters Natasha (Margarida Moreira) and Sonia (Anabela Moreira) bring on the stroke that kills their father, but they blame Diamantino and the loss of the championship. Their abuse of their brother continues when they take over as his managers and, unbeknownst to him, are robbing him blind by transferring money from his accounts to an offshore account of theirs.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Portuguese Secret Service has been monitoring Diamantino and are under the mistaken impression that the offshore accounts are his. Aware of his fascination with refugees and his desire to adopt one, lesbian agents Lucia (Maria Leite) and Aisha (Cleo Tavares) cook up a plan in which computer whiz Aisha will portray teenage male refugee Rahim. Rahim will move into Diamantino’s house thereby allowing Aisha will gain access to his computer.
Meanwhile, Natasha and Sonia have teamed up with evil Minister Ferro (Joana Barrios) and mad scientist Dr. Lamborghini (Carla Maciel) to create clones of Diamontino all in the name of a right-wing movement whose language and actions echo those of Donald Trump. Will the goodness of Diamantino triumph over the evil that surrounds him? You’ll have to find out by seeing the movie.
Whatever substances that Abrantes and Schmidt were consuming (if any at all) should be shared with other filmmakers so that we can have more wonderful and wacky experiences like “Diamantino”. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
3.5/5 peaches – A good, ripe peach