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April Captains (Capitães de Abril) Review:

Directed By: Maria De Medieros
Starring: Maria De Medieros

Maria De Medeiros It can be amazing what people choose for their first feature film. Case in point is April Captains directed by and starring Maria De Medeiros. The movie spirals around the events of the uprising in Lisbon circa 1974. Not what one might expect if you have only seen her work in Pulp Fiction or Henry and June. But dig into her filmography a little further and you will be surprised at what you see.

It's a pretty broad story, lot's of characters, scene changes and obviously some political leanings. I expected, through some petty reasoning of my own, that it would be a romantic story set against the backdrop of revolution. Yes, that is there...few movies lack any form of romance...but it's not romance of the Casablanca ilk.

Several storylines run throughout, and in most cases, don't cross paths until the end. Of course being a foreign film it not only has those lovely subtitles (sometimes) it doesn't tie everything up neatly or happily. That's not really the point though, is it?

The weakest story line revolves around Maria De Medieros character and her husband who has returned from the fighting in Africa a changed man. Turns out he is one of the leaders in the uprising. His army comrades overtake a radio station to keep control of the airwaves, and it seems like everyone knows he is involved except for the woman who no longer loves him for his involvement in the army.

The army itself is a fascinating part of this movie. Like a keystone kops expedition. It takes forever for the young men in the army to agree to the revolution and when they do they attend it all on weak, broken down equipment. The good equipment is still in use in Africa.

The envoy makes their way towards the site of the rebellion so slowly it is painfully funny...stopping for red lights so they won't hurt the people they are trying to free. Apparently abiding this worldwide traffic law was something the army actually did as they sought a bloodless revolution.

What I did find truly amazing about this film is two things. How much tension was conveyed through simple things. As the people are liberated they come out into the streets, loading rifle barrels full of carnations and with all that public happiness I constantly expect bloodshed. Must be my Hollywood conditioning. In an interesting opening the film hits out hard with the only real images of war...and those are black and white from the razings of Africa...imagery sure to make one wince.

The second thing that struck me was how well April Captains was shot. Interesting angles and some nice reveals kept me watching when the movie started to flounder. That is it's main problem, it's own size and length fight against the story and make one squirm in their seat at points.

From tortured political prisoners, the police state, a confused army, artists and teachers fighting the good fight...it gets a little muddled but what does come across is the joy of freedom and how close this story is to the director's heart. Definitely worth watching, but like I say, one you have to stick with for all the gems it does contain.

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Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul

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Evil Ash

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