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UNSPEAKABLE DESIRE: THE FILMS OF JOÃO PEDRO RODRIGUES

THE MOVIES OF JOÃO PEDRO RODRIGUES might be seen as attempts to film the unfilmable. Their ineffable subject is desire in all its guises (and disguises), and their modus operandi is to follow that desire to its logical—or illogical—ends. In each of his three features—O Fantasma (2000), Two Drifters (2005), and To Die Like a Man (2009)—the Portuguese filmmaker has focused on a character defined by an all-consuming hunger. A garbageman with a raging libido, prowling Lisbon’s nighttime netherworld for anonymous sex. A troubled young woman dreaming of motherhood, convinced she’s carrying the child of a dead gay man. An aging drag queen who has devoted her adult life to the impersonation of womanhood, bumping up against the hard facts of biology. Each wrestles with longings so intense and so desperately large that they eclipse the gap between the carnal and the spiritual.

As confrontational as

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