Top Shows

New Zealand International Film Festival

July to November NZ wide | TVNZ

To Die Like A Man: Film Festival

To Die Like a Man

Morrer como um homem, Portugal/France 2009, 134m
Director: João Pedro Rodrigues
Festivals: Cannes (Un Certain Regard), Toronto, New York, Vancouver 2009; San Francisco 2010

"Set in Lisbon's flourishing drag-queen demimonde during the late 1980s, João Pedro Rodrigues' latest foray into the gay body politic is a sensitive and transfixing look at Tonia (Fernando Santos), an aging pre-op transsexual under pressure from her much younger junkie boyfriend to make her sexual transformation into something permanent. At the same time, her body has begun to implode, as she's stricken down by an illness - one that we can safely assume is AIDS. The impending setting of her life causes the devoutly Catholic Tonia - a character based on several real-life Lisbon drag queens--to reassess what's come before, including her relationship with her son, and confront her fate. Completely eschewing camp and spectacle, Rodrigues' terrific conceit is to shoot his film in the narrow 1.33 Academy ratio and never show his star, Tonia (or any of her rivals, who include a Nubian goddess), performing drag numbers on or off-stage. But this is no drag of a movie: Rodrigues achieves moments of pure magic with, other, less flamboyant, numbers sung or played on the soundtrack, most of them popular Portuguese songs. To Die Like a Man thus retains the feel of a kind of intimate, melodramatic musical, one of those behind-the-scenes portraits from the 1950s. Almodóvar might come to mind, but the emotions and stylization are more Fassbinder at his most melancholic. Either way, it's safe to say that Rodrigues is well on his way to joining these masters in the pantheon of queer cinema." - Vancouver International Film Festival

In Portuguese, with English subtitles