Lobo e Cão [Wolf & Dog] (2022)

Lobo e Cão
Director: Cláudia Varejão
Writer: Leda Cartum, Cláudia Varejão
Cast: Ana Cabral, Ruben Pimenta, Cristiana Branquinho, Marlene Cordeiro, João Tavares, Nuno Ferreira, Mário Jorge Oliveira, Luísa Alves, Maria Furtado
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) queermisia

Ana (Ana Cabral) and Luis (Ruben Pimenta) are best friends, growing up on the island of São Miguel. Openly queer Luis sticks out there, but he and Ana have both found a second home in the island’s queer community. When Ana’s friend Cloé (Cristiana Branquinho) comes for a visit, Ana starts to question thing a little more. Both she and Luis have to figure out how to navigate traditions and cultural change.

Wolf & Dog is Varejão’s fictional debut that still retained a touch of the documentarist in her. The film is at its best when it observe, and is a bit of a bumpy ride when it tries to tell its story. But it’s certainly worth it to see this beautiful exploration of the queer community on São Miguel.

The film poster showing Ana (Ana Cabral) looking pensively into the distance.

Not many films tackle the tension between tradition and change as explicitly as this film, and I have to admit, it was the most engaging part for me of the film. The way Ana and, maybe even more so, Luis try to find a way to live the island’s traditions and yet not give up their identities was wonderfully captured, especially in a scene where they take part in a religious procession.

Cabral and Pimenta are a good central duo, very different in their energy and their approach to their characters, making Ana and Luis’ friendship feel completely natural in their opposites and similarities. They definitely have that sense of familiarity that you’d expect from best friends who have known each other all their lives.

Ana (Ana Cabral) and Luis (Ruben Pimenta) sitting in a car together.

The story the film tells falls behind the setting and the naturalistic approach, often feeling a little too tropey, not as if tropes were consciously chosen but as if they couldn’t think of anything better than to revert to the narrative standard. Plus, the pacing isn’t quite right and the film is generally a bit too long. 90 Minutes would have probably done the trick here.

Despite these flaws, Wolf & Dog is an engaging debut, though. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for Varejão’s next project where things will probably be a lot smoother already, making the excellent qualities of her filmmaking shine even more.

Ana (Ana Cabral) dancing at a party.

Summarizing: definitely worth seeing.

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