Article by Antonio Congias
Translation by Martina Agostino
What’s left of Sofia (Sofia Tomic) are clothes, laid out as if they were laundry hanging in the sun. What’s left of Sofia is the carving of a heart on a tree, the sound of a thud in the water, and the echo of a dog barking in the face of an irreparable choice. Even Sofia’s tattoo drawings survive, failing to fulfil the uncomfortable situation she ended up herself in. Actually, Sofia’s past and the memory of her last wanderings, are sealed in Sofia Foi, the debut feature film by Brazilian director Pedro Geraldo.
«Can we stay like this for a while?» says Sofia, sure that she no longer has to fear her vulnerability, because she finally has a person in front of her who can understand her fragility. A fictitious safety that is swept away by an outbreak of yellow fever, which turns Sofia’s life into a long tunnel where absence and the rumbling of death dominate.
A liminal space is a place of transit and connection, devoid of real or imaginary subjects, that generates a sense of unease and nostalgia. Pedro Geraldo creates a somber portrait of Sofis’s mental disequilibrium, which is, in fact, a transitory surface. The architecture of the spaces in which Sofia wanders, exposed to the weakness of her queerness, is captured by Geraldo – also a cinematographer – through long shots and a marked use of chiaroscuro which, on a visual level, express the persistent malaise of the protagonist. In this sense, the concern of Geraldo’s first film lies entirely in its narrative which, by introducing a socio-cultural consideration, strays into persistent stylistic quirks, such as the choice of introducing flashbacks with extremely long cross-fades, more reminiscent of a double exposure, but remaining faithful to the final packaging of a liminal space.
Pedro Geraldo’s poetic leans toward arthouse cinema: it is unsuccessful in addressing the stated wills of the story he wants to tell, but at the same time it is capable of a stylistic and formal clarity which are an expression of Sofia’s feeling. It’s a debut feature film that is close to a decade-old aesthetic sentiment, the so-called indie sleaze, transmuted into something darker and less maximalist. Here, what’s left of Sofia Foi is the shade of that feeling, interpreted by Geraldo in a new perspective, even geographically.