MiniReview: "O Fantasma" (film)

Ricardo Meneses as Sergio, who generally has one thing on his mind.

What is it?

A Portuguese film from 2000, directed by João Pedro Rodrigues.


What’s it about?

That’s a tough one.


Oh dear. This sounds bad.

No, it isn’t bad, but … What is it about? There’s not much in terms of plot, dialogue or characters.


This just gets worse and worse.

No, really, it’s not bad. Okay, well, on the surface, here’s what it’s about: A young man, Sergio, works as a garbage collector in Lisbon. He seems more or less completely alone in the world. He’s very sensual. He’s drawn to dogs, maybe because he is himself very much an animal. (But then, we all are, in one sense, aren’t we?) The film is about his animal instincts, I guess.



Very much so. But he’s also just very tactile. He likes rubbing things, licking things, smelling things, rubbing up against things. But then he gets obsessed with a young motorcyclist and starts stalking him, and it all goes very bad.


That’s a plot.

It is a plot of sorts. But the film is essentially visual—a series of compelling images, many of them highly erotic, verging on pornographic. It’s a bit “art house porn,” you might say. But very beautiful in its own way—which is to say, finding beauty in the bestial and the dirty. Garbage plays a big part.


You don’t seem to know quite what to say about this film.

It’s one of the more original films I’ve seen. I won’t soon forget it. And the lead actor is sexy as anything, and it’s all a big turn-on. Does this sound like I’m reviewing porn?


Maybe a bit. Are you giving this stars?

One. If you’re in the mood for something sexy, arty and weird, check it out.

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