Kmêdeus was a fixture of street life in Cape Verde; a homeless eccentric whose philosophical ramblings inspired António Tavares to a dance piece. The film accompanies Tavares in his process and his dance, as well as trying to find out who Kmêdeus was, ultimately asking questions about the line between art and mental illness.
Kmêdeus is a short documentary that shines whenever it looks at the art part and stumbles when it talks about mental health/illness. It does have interesting parts, but it just doesn’t quite work.
The film basically has two protagonists – Kmêdeus and Tavares. Kmêdeus (“come deus” is Portuguese for “eating god”) himself died a while ago and was therefore not involved in the making of the film. I don’t know if he would have liked it or not. As the film went on, I certainly started to feel more and more unease about how the film basically reads Kmêdeus’ mental health issues and his homelessness as some kind of direct line to god. In find this romanticizing and not much else.
Of course, that point of view is a Western perspective and it’s pretty clear that people in Cape Verde frame mental illness differently than we do in Europe. The film just didn’t make me see the advantage of that framing, so I’d rather stick with my Western point of view in this case.
The film is much less contentious when it just focues on Tavares and his creative process. I like dance but I don’t really have a critical frame of reference for most of it. With modern dance performances that often means that I’m left a bit puzzled and unsure of what to do with what I just saw. In this case, I don’t know if I could give you any good interpretations of the dancing, but I definitely enjoyed watching it.
Not only does Tavares have incredible charisma, Miranda captures his performance (pieces) in stunning images. It made me wish that the entire film had just been this (or another) performance of Tavares’, maybe with a bit of background info or insight. It probably would have worked for me.
Summarizing: uneven, but definitely has good parts.