Porto was produced by Jim Jarmusch, and very obviously so. Long, seemingly simple and void sequences, come to conjure up life and its most beautiful and devastating moments in just a few minutes. Whoever says these are long scenes where not much happens, has forgotten all about how we do things here in the real world. In real life, when we fall in love, we stare at each other for hours, saying very little — if anything at all. In real life, we’re struggling to believe that this creature lying opposite us has any time for us at all. This perfect human being is here, glaring back, after a long, exhausting night of love-making and hope-bearing. This is real love in real life – and it’s slow, painful, exciting, empty, full, devastating, hopeful and hopeless.
Filmmaker Gabe Klinger must be a big Jim Jarmusch fan, for he lets the gazes speak for themselves, isn’t afraid of pauses and is painfully honest with his audience. At the same time, we have themes that Jarmusch has kept safe from — romantic slices of life that bring on rejection and heartache and end up shaping entire existences. In the way Klinger’s story progresses, we are reminded of Richard Linklater and Drake Doremus, accepting that happiness will be immediately followed by loss and if it doesn’t, something else will come to ruin it all – once again, much like real life.
Read at Unsung Films: Stranger than Paradise.
Klinger layers up his tale, splitting it in three parts, exploring two different points of view, before he moves onto what really happened. His two protagonists, Jake (Anton Yelchin) and Mati (Lucie Lucas) are each broken in their way, trapped within life and crazy in the most harmless and harmful way. They’re crazy enough as to not want to be pinned down — they’re free and intangible. There’s a quality about them we cannot really explain; they’re younger than their age would suggest and rebellious in the most wonderful of ways. At the same time, they’re criminals – stalking, hurting, pushing each other away. Who’s more of a villain? Probably Mati, but then again she told you she was crazy.
Anton Yelchin is unbelievable as Jake. He’s shaking and terrified to look up, but once he does, there is nowhere else he will look. His gaze will sweep you off your feet, make you feel special and needed, he will forgive you all the madness, will listen as though his life depended on what you said, understand your every word and never put himself into this equation. He’s here for you — he’s a man. Lucie Lucas’ Mati is beautiful and a breath of fresh air. Mad at a time when that’s the only escape for a stunning woman, and distant and mysterious, while bringing you breakfast in bed. She’s loving, sweet, passionate and scared. She’s lost and found — she needs you, but she needs her space as well, she wants you to look after her, but hates you making her feel trapped. She’s perfect in her contrasts – she’s a woman.
Jake will wait for her outside her house like a dog, and Mati will scratch him and break free like a cat. Who’s to blame for this happy moment not becoming everyday life? I guess Mati. Safety won in the end. But was it worth this night? Definitely — and for Jake more than Mati, because he may now be a broken man, but he has experienced “it”. The love, the night, the wonderful exhaustion, the late-night philosophising, the being woken up to a note and to a smile to himself. Mati has the same, only she has chosen to cover it up with other relationships, other moments — moving on, growing up, settling down, getting serious. In the end, no matter how broken you may be, Jake, at least you’re not a prisoner of your own doing.
I watched Porto at the Torino Film Festival and was introduced to this wonderfully haunting film by Gabe Klinger and Lucy Lucas, dedicating it to Anton Yelchin, who passed away earlier this year. The realisation of the great talent that was lost hits any viewer hard when watching Porto. It’s painful to see an actor with such subtlety and emotion in his eyes being taken away from cinema — all that is now left for us to do is hope and pray that both Klinger and Lucas will continue bringing us projects like this or that Jarmusch will continue vouching for the films worth our time and money.
Watch the trailer for Porto here: