O Fantasma

The title of this sexually explicit Portuguese feature (2000) means the phantom, and that’s clearly how the young hero (Ricardo Meneses), a lonely garbage collector in Lisbon, sees himself. Haunted by kinky homoerotic obsessions, drawn to bouts of anonymous sex, and kept company mainly by a loyal dog, he spies on and picks through the trash of a biker, creeping through the night like a cat burglar. Director Joao Pedro Rodrigues lists Lang, Pasolini, and Cronenberg among his favorite directors, but O fantasma reminded me most of Jean Genet’s Un chant d’amour, with bondage and latex replacing incarceration and cigarettes. This is not to say that it’s equally good or poetic, but the eroticizing of a whole universe is no less apparent. In Portuguese with subtitles (though the dialogue is fairly sparse). 90 min. (JR)

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