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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Sunburn **

Starring: Ricardo Pereira, Oceania Basilia, Nuno Pardal, Ricardo Barbosa, Rafael Gomes Director: Vicente Alves do Ó Country: Portugal Fresh from this year’s BFI Flare festival, Portuguese Sunburn is released soon in the UK by TLA Releasing. From Vicente Alves do Ó (who directed last year’s Al Berto), this is a brooding claustrophobic character drama. Four friends are on holiday together. Intense writer Simao (Barbosa), romantic Vasco (Pereira), glamorous Joana (Basilia) and intense Francisco (Pardal). The latter pair have agreed to have a baby together, but when it’s announced that an old friend, David (Gomes), will be joining them, old wounds are ripped open as each of the men considers whether he is coming back for them. It is David that brought them all together, but each was mortally wounded by him. The idyllic country villa in the baking sunshine becomes a pressure cooker as secrets are revealed, grievances laid bare and arguments erupt between them as they wait for his arrival. All the while, a vast forest fire is burning in the distance, with sirens blaring and helicopters circling overhead. This feeling of impending dread and trouble in paradise underpins the drama, but with the threat level never feeling like it really gets above “mild”, the whole movie feels like a storm in a teacup. With a cast of brow-beating and painfully earnest characters, Sunburn is more irritating than entertaining. It makes great effort to play out the drama through subtext, but it would be nice if a character could speak their mind now and then so we can at least try to like them a little bit.


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