Review: Tommy Guns – Cineuropa

– The past becomes the present and the present becomes the past in Carlos Conceição’s interesting interpretation of a country’s problematic legacy.

Review: Tommy Guns

It’s the 1970s and the Angolan War of Independence is still going on, though people are frankly exhausted. It’s not about winning anymore, it seems. It’s about somehow surviving and keeping your sanity intact, even though that ship has probably sailed a long time ago.

Portuguese filmmaker Carlos Concepcionborn in Angola, invokes the ghosts of the colonial past in his interesting premiere at the Locarno Film Festival Competition tommy guns [+see also:
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, but it doesn’t necessarily stop there. As his beautiful young characters slowly go insane, alone in nature and dazed with boredom, it’s as if he’s sometimes quoting film history, especially his famous shots from the Vietnam War. Which makes sense, since wars are always the same, someone observes, and there is something absolutely terrifying about that statement. If they are, it means that people don’t learn anything and the cycle of madness always starts all over again.

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tommy guns‘ original title Nation Valente (taken from the Portuguese anthem) may be about the “brave nation”, but the concept of patriotism is certainly in question here. Conceição is based on a specific situation, an uprising that showed how flawed the idea of ​​being on the “right side” really is, but it skips another history lesson. It is not about specific dates or forgotten names of leaders; These are issues that remain problematic even today. That makes his film more universal and therefore also more uncomfortable.

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Arguably, Conceição’s film is about conflict in general, but also and more specifically between men and women. Almost all interactions between them are marked by violence: a rare moment of tranquility and tenderness between a local girl and a Portuguese soldier ends in a shocking twist. This director is all about surprises, with a story that gives him an almost Shyamalan-esque ending. But such decisions, which could easily turn into a silly gimmick, by no means overshadow these complex encounters. As a group of men silently watch a woman undress and then accuse her of bringing evil under her roof, there is something true about it. There always has to be someone to blame, someone who supposedly leads others astray, even if that’s not true.

Adding some absurd glimpses to the already highly layered story (a Brigitte Bardot painting has a fitting cameo), Conceição points out how war is about creating one’s own reality and convincing others that they must always be ready because “the enemy” approaches. Back then or today, people continue to believe, manipulated unrecognizable and locked up in their barracks, and if they are moved by fear, the better. A bit of gender also makes an appearance and, in the end, why shouldn’t it? After all, war is pure horror.

tommy guns was produced by Terratreme Filmes and co-produced by Virginie Films and Mirabilis. Wide handles the sales.

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