VIFF 2022: Field of Blood

Directed by: João Mário Grilo
Distributed by: TBA

Written by Alexander Reams

30/100

A story within a story can be great when done right, the gold standard is “Adaptation.” However, it can also be a pitfall for less experienced writers and directors. Director João Mário Grilo is no freshman, he has a career spanning 40-plus years, so there is a level of expertise one expects from a director with this much experience, but that experience did not show here. Grilo is more interested in framing gorgeous exterior shots that would better fit on an Instagram timeline than a film. Collaborating with co-writers Luís Mário Lopes and Inês Beleza Barreiros to craft the narrative of a writer (Luïsa Cruz) whose protagonist comes to life and causes her extreme amounts of grief and urges reflection on a novel she wrote. Through the eyes of the women in the book we see what the protagonist has done to each of them and the sins he’s committed that landed him in the courts. 

Grilo’s direction evokes the same feeling Dr. Frankenstein had when he realized his creation had outgrown him. One of timidness, and when Grilo isn’t crafting his Instagram landscape shots, that’s how his choices feel–timid. The opening scene is in a waiting room where every camera movement feels reactionary instead of intentional, reducing the actor’s ability to perform as they are undercut by Grilo’s artistic sensibilities. It was a great disappointment that such an intriguing premise was turned into this collection of images, instead of a film about a writer who struggles with the unintended consequences of her book in unexpected ways, a disappointment but like “Field of Blood,” not all stories work.

“Field of Blood” Trailer

“Field of Blood” was screened as part of the 2022 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

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