I have mixed feelings about Pedro Costa’s Horse Money. From a visual perspective, it’s amazing: Costa and cinematographer Leonardo Simões command light and shadow to create stunningly beautiful scenes in hospitals, industrial spaces, abandoned streets, even on a hill at night. It’s simple but gorgeous. Fucking gorgeous! The visual aspect made Horse Money worth sitting through to the bitter end.
The plot, on the other hand, is another story. Vague, confusing, and very esoteric, I’m not sure what it’s all about. I think—but I’m not sure—Ventura, a revolutionary who sold out for a normal life, is about to die. The film takes us along with him (and his shaky hands) as his life flashes before his eyes—kind of like Jacob’s Ladder. He meets characters from his past and literal demons that haunt him. He must come to terms with the choices he made that brought him to the present before he can let go. The whole thing is dreamlike and stream-of-consciousness. It’s moody, pretty, and unsettling; but it’s often maddeningly difficult to follow. The scene in the elevator—probably the most important in the film—is way too long. It actually made me claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to get out of the theater.
Maybe Friday evening wasn’t the best time to see something like this—it requires a lot of attention. When I depart this mortal coil, I hope it’s much quicker and less tortuous (and less torturous) than this. Fuck me.
(Gene Siskel Film Center) C-