Blu-ray Review: Diamantino

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt | CAST: Carloto Cotta, Cleo Tavares, Anabela Moreira, Margarida Moreira
RELEASE DATE: Oct. 22, 2019 | PRICE: DVD $19.89, Blu-ray $22.99
SPECS: NR | 92 min. | Foreign language comedy fantasy drama | aspect | stereo | Portuguese with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

A cult classic waiting to be discovered, Diamantino is a totally screwy saga centering on a world-class soccer player with less-than-rocket science intelligence and…lesbian lovers, brainwashing, politics and the European Union, a pair of evil sisters, the plight of refugees, fluffy Pekingese dogs—and a whole lot more.

Directed by Portugal’s Gabriel Abrantes and American-born Daniel Schmidt, Diamantino won praise and international awards for its audacious style and genre-shifting style, and it’s a testament to the filmmakers’ abilities that they can keep an audience engaged and fascinated by a film that, on paper, seems like it would be a chore to sit through.

Portuguese soccer star Diamantino Matamouros (Carloto Cotta, Tabu) becomes the target of a secret government agency that wants to do experiments on him while he’s investigated by a lesbian secret agent (Cleo Tavares, Damned Summer) for money laundering. She poses as a teenage male refugee from Mozambique to get the goods on the sports hero, but finds herself harassed by Diamantino’s nasty siblings and her true identity threatened to be exposed by a jealous lover.

Critics have compared the film to the works of Pedro Almodovar (Broken Embraces) and Gregg Araki (Kaboom), and they are not far off. The odd, ever-changing sexual situations take surprising, often satiric turns, but pull back just before they get nasty. Cotto’s lead character is a sweet, well-meaning hunk-of-a-dolt, whose good nature shines throughout, whether he’s lamenting the loss of his father, imagining cuddly dogs helping him for inspiration in key soccer goals or getting involved as a parent–and other things—to his refugee pal.

In a different era, perhaps, Diamantino may have greeted enthusiastic audiences on the midnight movie circuit.  Whether positive reviews and a decent run in arthouses in major cities are enough to bolster interest in this truly unique production, it will likely take positive word-of-mouth to give it the attention it deserves. If that’s the case, let the word start here.

Buy or Rent Diamantino

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.