Quanto Dura o Amor? [Paulista] (2009)

[First film I saw at the Identities Festival, Vienna’s queer film festival.]

Quanto Dura o Amor? [which literally translates to “How Long Does Love Last?”] is the newest film by Roberto Moreira, written by himself and Anna Muylaert, starring Maria Clara Spinelli, Silvia Lourenço, Danni Carlos and Fábio Herford.

Aspiring actress Marina (Silvia Lourenço) leaves her boyfried behind to move to São Paulo and try her luck there. She stays with Suzana (Maria Clara Spinelli), a successful lawyer who just started dating her colleague Gil (Gustavo Machado). On her first evening, Marina goes partying together with her neighbor Jay (Fábio Herford), a socially awkward writer in love with prostitute Michelle (Leilah Moreno). Marina meets the enigmatic singer Justine (Danni Carlos) and immediately falls in love with her.

Paulista is divided in three stories, one I couldn’t care less about (Jay and Michelle), one that was okay (Marina and Justine) and one that was excellent (Suzana and Gil). Unfortunately the film mostly focusses on the Marina, so it ends up being only nice where it could have been really great.

The best thing about Paulista is Maria Clara Spinelli, hands down. Not surprisingly she has gotten all kinds of accolades for her portrayal – a first for a transgender woman, which makes it even more awesome. And it’s very well deserved. Gustavo Machado is a good match for her and I was completely invested in their story line. If the whole film had been about them, I would have had no contentions whatsoever.

Especially since Roberto Moreira is a good film maker. He manages to make Paulista a calm and atmospheric film and has a good handle on the pacing.

Unfortunately the movie focusses mostly on Marina and her relationship with Justine (and Justine’s husband Nuno [Paulo Vilhena]). And my problem was that I just didn’t get Marina’s obsession with Justine: I generally don’t fall for the “broken person who needs to be fixed” shtick and additionally, Danni Carlos’ singing is pretty weak [I know that she’s actually a singer. That makes it even more awkward]. Which makes it a little ridiculous that she’s supposed to be this super-sexy artist.

Thankfully, the movie only spends a little time with Jay. But his story is generally so clichéd, uninteresting and neglected that one can’t help but wonder why it was included at all.

Summarising: Despite the weaknesses, it’s a nice film that’s worth seeing for Maria Clara Spinelli alone.


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