Pusan 2010: THE LAST FLIGHT OF FLAMINGO Review

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
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[Our thanks to Padrhig Harney for the following review]

With production from Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Mozambique, and Brazil "The Last Flight of Flamingo" brings globalization and film together in an attempt to create a film unlike any other.

Director Joao Ribeiro's first crack at a feature film was a long time coming. In his early career he focused on production of films like "Ali" and "Blood Diamond". From 1992 he directed 3 Shorts "Tatana",  "Africa Dreaming", and  "Fogata" all based on original stories from the Mozambican writer Mia Couto. Of the many films at PIFF this year Ribeiro's was most likely the strangest, blending African tradition and folklore into a narrative that in the end could not really add up to much of anything.

The film starts out with a mystery. A UN soldier has been killed and all that is left behind a blue helmet and his phallus. With great fan fair the UN general for the region swoops in on a helicopter leaving UN detective Massimo Risi to solve the crime. Looking to show the utter ineptness of bureaucrats in Mozambique the film brings us buffooning characters in power. Ribeiro tries to present this with ironic wit, however he ultimately fails at this. The performances fall flat along with the many jokes.

The viewer is given some small portions of Mozambican flavor before the film goes over the edge and collapses into a convoluted mess. The acting is suspect at best and by the end, while Risi is going native and embracing the oddities of the land and its people, there is not much more the viewer can take. The apparent masterpiece that the film is based on from Mia Couto has been destroyed.  A film should stand on its own whether the ideas come from a novel or from a screenwriter. And "The Last Flight of Flamingo" fails in any attempt to be a film or an adaptation of a novel.

Review by Padrhig Harney
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