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Arabian Nights Volume 1: The Restless One


Stars: Crista Alfaiate, Miguel Gomes, Maria Rueff, Adriano Luz, Masirou Diallo, Luisa Cruz

Director: Miguel Gomes

After a lengthy preamble about closing shipyards and a wasp invasion, this political diatribe settles down to re-creating Scheherazade's famous racy stories as a comment on Portugal's various economic woes.

Nut surprisingly, the film soon sinks beneath a barrage of verbiage, droningly delivered by not very interesting characters.

An exploding whale enlivens things very briefly at the end.

Meanwhile 'the blood pressure will drop,' says one of the main characters, 'and a surge of melancholia will be on the way'. Yes, I felt that, too, that and an inclination to nod off. You, too, may feel, like the film director battling neuroses and heart problems, that 'the time had come for drastic decisions'. Like leaving the cinema, perhaps.

The photography, when not hand-held, is pretty, but there are two more volumes of all this to follow in the coming weeks: you shouldn't rush.

David Quinlan

Portugal/France/Switzerland 2015. UK Distributor: Mubi/New Wave. Colour by Kodak.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 20 Apr 2016