This week we watched Two Drifters, a very weird and wild Portuguese film from 2005 that I don’t know what to make of at all.
Warning for brief mentions of suicide attempts.
This was not the weirdest movie I have ever seen in my life, but I think it’s probably high on the list, and I don’t know how to go about summarizing it or what to say. My professor wasn’t in class and we’re not discussing it til next week, unfortunately, so I have no insightful thoughts yet.
Let’s see. The movie opens with two dudes making out and about four seconds later one of them dies. Meanwhile, Odette breaks up with her boyfriend because he doesn’t want to have a baby, and she smacks him a bunch. She seems a little unsettled, perhaps!
The dead guy lived in her building so she goes to the funeral, where she spies the other guy kissing his body while no one is looking. Then she steals the dead guy’s (symbolic) wedding ring. Then she screams and throws herself on his casket? Then she tells his mom she’s pregnant with his baby and does a very evil laugh? And she like… has sex with the mound of flowers and dirt on top of his grave… Perhaps she is more than a little unsettled!
She takes a pregnancy test and it’s negative, but then she starts buying baby stuff and seems to be pregnant and, like, she starts living… on his grave…? It’s very unclear if she’s doing this stuff #ForTheDrama or with genuine intention at this point, and it’s unclear if she’s pregnant or not.
Meanwhile, the dead guy’s boyfriend cries while cruising in parking lots and tries to kill himself several times. He runs into Odette multiple times and never REALLY questions why she’s claiming to be pregnant by his dead boyfriend. He seems to just kind of accept that they have some kind of kinship?
Then Odette chops her hair off and starts dressing like the dead guy. Then it turns out Odette’s pregnancy is PSYCHOSOMATIC. Then she and the dead guy’s boyfriend make out and have simulated sex in which she tells him to call her the dead guy’s name, while the dead guy’s ghost watches, or something!
I’m not even trying to make this sound weird or confusing. I’m just stating the facts. I don’t think I’m really even leaving much out?
Odette was terrible before she started showing signs of being mentally unstable, and I don’t know how much I’m supposed to sympathize with her or not. I don’t know what to make of her. I was initially worried because, you know, this is a girl exploiting a queer guy’s death and another queer guy’s suffering, and the story follows her more than the other dude, and was originally called Odette.
But I never really felt like the film itself was exploiting queer characters for a straight character’s story. It was just… about a weird, fucked up situation and weird, fucked up people. Plus, it was hard for me to figure out the tone of the film, but it’s kind of absurdist? Humor and dark moments happened back-to-back, and I never quite felt like I was supposed to be taking it seriously – but I couldn’t tell if I wasn’t supposed to be taking ANY of it seriously, you know?
I almost feel like the film was SO weird that it managed to… transcend my value judgment about whether or not things were offensive. Like, the opening scene where the one dude dies in the car crash was SO bad and tropey, and now that I’ve seen the rest of the film, I’m like… the director knows that, right? He must. Like, the other dude trying and failing to kill himself twice was so melodramatic – he MUST know.
So I kind of feel like shitty tropes, like an ostensibly gay guy making out with this weirdo lady for no reason, just kind of… stopped being offensive to me because they’re not being done because the creator thinks it’s okay, it’s being done because it’s weird, or maybe even BECAUSE it’s “bad.” I kind of feel like everything happening in this film is a bad thing for the character to be doing or a bad thing for the director to be doing or both. Which kind of circles back around into this “anything goes” place. I don’t know, man.
It’s been very strange to be in a film class as an outsider, to not be able to tell when to take things seriously or not, to not be able to tell if my opinions match up with other people’s and if I should care. But this time around everyone else was just as confused as I was, which was certainly nice.
See you next Friday, but this was our last week of class, so like… I don’t know. I think next week I’m going to recap the class and officially recommend which of the films from this experience you should check out. And then talk about where Flashback Friday will go in the future.