Photos and Video
The friction between truth and fiction and the power of performance to dissolve the difference between the two have long been subjects of some fascination to Brazilian director Eduardo Coutinho. His breakthrough 1984 film Twenty Years Later, for example, is a hybrid of narrative and documentary footage shot two decades apart. What Coutinho began in 1964 as a straightforward retelling of the murder of a labor organizer winds up, 20 years later, as a meta-exercise reflecting on the role this unfinished feature played in the lives of its cast when shooting was shut down by the Brazilian government. It's film as hall of mirrors, and so is Playing, Coutinho's most concentrated exploration of the question, "what is real?" An advertisement in a newspaper invites women in Rio de Janeiro to come tell their stories on camera. These interviews take place in an empty theater with a camera rolling. Later, the stories these women tell are reiterated by a series of actresses, shot in the same empty theater. Who is "acting" and who is "telling" is left unspecified by Coutinho as he interweaves the monologues- identical sentences spoken by two different women, in two different ways, jam up against each other in a series of jump cuts, and unless viewers instantly recognize the actress Fernanda Torres, say, they will have a hard time deciphering the real from the fake. Coutinho's aim is to explode those two categories, and if that sounds like a rather dry intellectual stunt, rest assured, his methods make Playing moving and surprisingly suspenseful.
Director's Statement Collapse
This is a documentary—impure, once it features professional actresses—who perform the stories the chosen appliers tell in a documentary. What is discussed is the performance itself. Acting is linked to ‘playing,’ which is quite clear in languages such as English (to play), French (jouer), and German (spielen). The true, natural, and authentic aspects of the characters are shown; meanwhile the most acute critics recognize it as theater, or as a performance created by the camera effects. And memory is always present, so it is made of forgetting and invention.
In this film, the game to be played includes at least three acting surfaces: First, the real characters tell about their own lives; second, these characters become models challenging actresses; and last, some professional actresses play the game of talking about their real lives. The documentary challenges the characters and actresses to escape from the stereotypes and, somehow, to affirm themselves as singular subjects until the very limits of the game.
Film Information Collapse
[PLAYI] | 2007 | 104 | Documentary Feature
Directed by: Eduardo Coutinho
Foreign Title: (Jogo de Cena)
Premiere: New York
Cast & Credits Collapse
Principal Cast Marília Pêra, Fernanda Torres, Andréa Betrão
Executive Producers João Moreira Salles, Maurício Andrade Ramos & Guilherme Cezar Coelho
Director of Photography Jacques Cheuiche, A.B.C.
Editor Jordana Berg
Sound Valéria Ferro
Director Assistant Cristiana Grumbach
About the Director(s)Collapse
Eduardo Coutinho is one of Brazil's greatest documentary filmmakers. He has made video documentaries, including Santa Marta: Duas Semanas no Morro (1987) and Boca de Lixo (1992), since the '80s. Playing is his 10th feature film and his fifth partnership with VideoFilmes. He worked on the television show Globo Reporter during the '70s and completed the classic Twenty Years Later in 1984 after starting in 1964. He shot five films in six years: Santo Forte (1999), Babilônia 2000 (2000), Edifício Master (2002), Peões (2004), and O Fim e o Princípio (2005).