TIFF 2014: Horse Money

By @cj_prin
TIFF 2014: Horse Money

I’ve always admired Pedro Costa’s films more than I’ve loved them, a trend that continues with Horse Money. Costa’s first fiction feature since 2006’s Colossal Youth again focuses on the same setting and person. Ventura, Colossal Youth‘s central character, is now on the brink of death. Wandering around in what appears to be a hospital, Ventura suffers from a nerve disease leaving him constantly trembling. He wanders through the hospital’s underground tunnels, venturing into the city and coming face to face with traumatic events from his past.

It’s impossible to truly understand everything in Horse Money, at least not in one viewing. It’s hard to tell what’s real or fake, what comes from Ventura’s real-life experiences or Costa’s vision, what’s in the past, present or future. What’s clear is Costa’s gorgeous, singular direction. Scenes are framed and lit in a surreal, dreamlike manner, using light and shadow to incredible effect. It can be downright otherworldly at times.

But it can only go so far, because Costa’s film sometimes feels like a brick wall. It’s too personal, too impenetrable to look at beyond a moment by moment basis, and even then moments can cause more frustration than admiration. That’s not to say Horse Money is a bad film. Perhaps what I find hard to understand now will open itself up with future viewings, or work better outside of the context of a film fest. For now I can only admire Horse Money from a distance, a feeling that leaves me more disappointed than elated.

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