(director/writer: Joao Canijo; cinematographer: Leonor Teles; editor: Joao Canijo; music: André Mergenthaler; cast:  Vera Barreto (Angela), Anabela Moreira (Piedade), Madalena Almeida (Salomé), Cleia Almeida (Raquel), Rita Blanco (Sara), Nuno Lopes (Jaime), Filipa Areosa (Camila), Leonor Sliveira (Elisa), Rafael Morais (Alex), Lia Carvalho (Graca), Beatriz Batarda (Judite), Leonor Vasconcelos (Julia), Carolina Amaral (Alice); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Pedro Borges; Midas Films; 2023-Portugal/France-in Portuguese with English subtitles)

“The vibe for this misogynist family drama is bitchy and discomforting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

At the 2023 Bernale it was the Silver Bear winner.

Portuguese director and writer Joao Canijo
(“Blood of my Blood”/”Get A Life “) in a painstakingly slow manner relays a  loveless story that is filmed with annoying arthouse ploys (showing oblique compositions that only show a bit of an actor at a time), as it tells a bleak tale of five women who run a failing hotel, in Portugal’s remote northern shore, without any happiness. Its theme is about mother-daughter relationships that are just awful.

It seems
the manipulative and nasty Sara (Rita Blanco) is in charge of the family owned hotel. Her two daughters, Raquel (Cleia Almeida) and Piedade (Anabela Moreira), assist in the hotel, along with the family friend chef Angela (Vera Barreto)– who stays there because she has a secretive relationship with Raquel. The mother and daughters are always at each other except when carrying out their hotel duties of kitchen work, house-cleaning and front desk service.

After the father of Piedade’s estranged daughter Salome (
Madalena Almeida) died four days ago (in which she didn’t attend the funeral), Salome joins her mom at the hotel. Her mom pays more attention to her lap dog than to her newly arrived daughter.

Three guests arrive and exhibit their own brand of depression, adding to the familial animosity in the hotel.

The vibe for this
misogynist family drama is bitchy and discomforting, as it inevitably results in tragedy when the bad lives of the women becomes too much for one of them to handle anymore.

It looms more as an art film than one that is enjoyable.

It played at the Berlin Film Festival