Review: Last Days of Emanuel Raposo

Written and directed by Diogo Lima, co-written by Amarino França and star Francisco Afonso Lopes, in the 1990s, a long time TV host from the Azores Islands comes to terms with his career’s end in a turbulent fashion. Also starring: Mário Roberto, Mia Tomé, João Malaquias and Biagio Volandri Verdolini.

It’s immediately clear how much time and effort went into making Last Days of Emanuel Raposo, it could quickly fool anyone into thinking it was a documentary. It’s extremely impressive how far the filmmakers went to creating that quintessential 1990s feel. It’s intensely nostalgic and frame for frame perfect in capturing the era and tone. You genuinely can’t point to a single thing that’s out of place because its entire visual pushes you exactly where it wants you to go. It sends you straight back to a time of utterly random television, local shows searching for anything to make content out of and often ending up with something hilariously irrelevant and awkward. Diogo Lima capitalises on that to set the scene with comedy, tension and an enjoyably purposeful clumsiness.

The characters are brimming with resentment, whether it be through underappreciation, arrogance or exhaustion both physical and mental, which creates a nicely charged atmosphere. Their disagreements and clear distaste for one another is a lot of fun to watch. It’s a classic power struggle between the face and the ones working behind the scenes, the star thinking they’re better than writers or producers, while forgetting that they’d be left in the lurch without them. It’s funny, real and relatable but at the same time coming in at forty-nine minutes, it feels drawn out. At a certain point it starts to become slightly repetitive, it makes its point then doesn’t have a lot to evolve or progress. It needed a bit more variety to keep the pacing and energy at a higher level and give you something to hold onto moving through the latter scenes. Although you could almost see it as the beginning of a Quentin Dupieux film before things take an absurd or violent turn.

Mário Roberto and Francisco Afonso Lopes really take the lead here, the bubbling hatred between them is very enjoyable to watch. It captures that moment of someone being pushed beyond their limits, having put up with so much crap to get no respect in return and they’re no longer willing to bow to anyone’s ego. Roberto gives us the aging star, taking out the anger of losing his show on anyone and everyone around him. He portrays that entitlement, unawareness and egotism really well, giving a presence of not entirely a tyrant but not willing to budge on being top dog. While Lopes provides the sympathetic side, a man who’s simply trying to do his job and is good at it, while never truly getting credit. Most people can relate to being put in a position where you’re working your ass off only for someone else to take the reward. It’s extremely convincing but is still based in that bitter, blunt sense of humour. It creates an interestingly playful balance of being grounded but comical.

Last Days of Emanuel Raposo is absolutely, ridiculously convincing as found footage of a 90s television shoot, the sheer amount of detail that has gone into creating it is an impressive achievement. It captures the bizarre nature of TV from that era and does so in a fun but tense fashion. Creating an atmosphere filled with conflict, with characters fed up with one another and quick with a backhanded insult. It can feel a touch repetitive at times and perhaps draws itself out longer than it needed to, lacking energy in its latter half. However, it’s a smart, relatable creation which feels impeccably real.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

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