The film “Menina,” actress Cristina Pinheiro's debut feature, does its directorial best to rise up to the league of films that capture the haunting emotions of being uprooted from the native land, in this case Portugal, to survive in an exile. — by Blouin Artinfo
The film “Menina,” actress Cristina Pinheiro's debut feature, does its directorial best to rise up to the league of films that capture the haunting emotions of being uprooted from the native land, in this case Portugal, to survive in an exile. The story touches upon the sensitive issues of cross-identities as it forms a kind of trans-European subgenus. The film deals with the similar crisis as of "All the Dreams of the World" by Laurence Ferreira Barbosa, and "Soleil soleil" by Clara and Laura Laperrousaz — the complex issues of immigration and the identity politics of minorities — through the young eyes of a 10 year old.
The story is set in 1979. Little Luisa (Naomi Biton), 10, sees her life living in the south of France with her family of Portuguese origin. They fled the dictatorship of Salazar and ended up in an entirely foreign setup. The pains and difficulties of her exile is shown through the story of her family. She understands less, yet can sense the feeling of acute pain. The story narrates the depression of her father, Joao (Nuno Lopes), who is drowning his homesickness in alcohol while her mother, Leonor (Beatriz Batarda), is devoured by frustration and rejection of sensuality. The film captures the innocence of her young imaginative mind as she goes about hiding the holes of her fragmentary family romance only to discover about her father’s deadly illness, as he coughs repeatedly and tries harder, every day, to catch his breath.
The film narrates the intimate repercussions of being uprooted from the land through this bittersweet chronicle noting the nuances of the invasion of filiations, daily vexations, cultural and linguistic mismatch, societal downgrading, and the tiresome livelihood. The film certainly touches upon the director’s personal narrative being the core autobiographical narrative that it is, noted Le Monde.