A Portuguese soccer star takes a hallucinatory journey in Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt's 2018 film. Info
Diamantino, the 2018 film by co-directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, is a surreal parody of Cristiano Ronaldo's stardom. This version of the Portuguese soccer legend, reimagined as the boyish Diamantino (Carloto Cotta), hallucinates Pekingese puppies when he's about to score, and he loves the puppies. Unfortunately, the afternoon before a match, Diamantino and his father spot refugees from their yacht. After rescuing the raft of people, the image of a woman crying about her dead child replaces the puppies during his all-important illusion, leading to Diamantino's failure on the world stage.
The rest of the movie is Diamantino's moral and political odyssey, as government agencies investigate his wealth and an ascendant conservative movement leeches off the symbolic power of his manhood. Liberal spies want to topple Diamantino as a symbol of decadence, while the "Make Portugal Great Again" types trick him into acting in propaganda modeled directly on Brexit commercials. At the same time, Diamantino adopts a refugee who's really one of the spies in disguise as a young boy. Completing the web of Diamantino's illusory life, his financially vampiric twin sisters gladly betray him to the right-wingers, who have more nefarious plans for the athlete's body.
Diamantino himself glides through this politically uncanny valley with the literal innocence of a child, as he confronts 2018 like a recently awoken Rip Van Winkle. The star is ignorant and impressionable, but his naivete and love for people around him give the film the idealistic power of a folktale. Special effects are heaped on like spoonfuls of sugar, and the stilted performances have a live-action cartoon quality. —Reid Kurkerewicz