horse money

NYFF 2014: Don’t look the gifted ‘Horse Money’ in the mouth

Horse Money is an elusive entity, a picture of eerie dreamscapes and squalid urban degradation devoid of earthly logic. Our unknowing guide is a retired brick layer named Ventura, acting as a cipher for the displaced souls of the Cape Verdean immigrants, consorting us through a saprogenic world. Director Pedro Costa crafts a hallucinatory, soul-searching labyrinth out of the squalor and grime of the Lisbon slums, known to locals as Fontainhas. It’s almost soporific in its unending calmness, but it (mostly) avoids pretensions. Ventura drifts in a solipsistic daze through various scenes of displaced landscape and artifice. He does various non-activities with unvarying detachment: he meets his estranged ex-wife, and tries to make a call on a broken phone, and uses a urinal in a derelict bathroom, and visits a doctor. Each event is visually striking, yet completely uneventful (though a door does slam at one point). The lighting is hard and Costa works often in steep contrasts; Ventura moves in and out of shadows, disappearing and reappearing like the motif from a dream.

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