Berlin Film Festival 2022: O Trio em Mi Bemol (The Kegelstatt Trio)

Berlin Film Festival 2022: O Trio em Mi Bemol (The Kegelstatt Trio) | Review

February 13, 2022


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There is, of course, a language of cinema – it is how the filmmaker uses various codes and methods to actually communicate his intent. Portuguese director Rita Azevedo Gomes clearly understands these conventions to the point that she can overturn them and interpret the language of cinema on her own terms. The result is a sometimes unwieldy and interesting work of abstraction. It may prove divisive, but there are singular and unexpected pleasures to be found.

Adélia (Rita Durão) and Paul (Pierre Léon) are former lovers whose romantic relationship is now platonic, but still emotionally intimate. They sit around a sparsely decorated villa, happily dissecting their pasts and giving candid opinions about each other’s current partners. It quickly turns out that the pair are actors, preparing for a film production, with the scenes shown forming that narrative. There’s definitely a playfulness here, sometimes bordering on shyness, but it’s not as if O Trio in E Flat attempts to take the meta, self-referential route.

Azevedo Gomes’ distinctive style has the potential to alienate. She prefers static, medium shots that encompass space, allowing her characters to come and go essentially as they please. It’s a curious experience that acknowledges the artifice of the premise, while encouraging an audience to scrutinize the proceedings in great detail. Many of the visuals are sublime in their simplicity, with even something as simple as a musical cue or the abrupt end of a long, uninterrupted shot feeling like a revelation. The very length of certain shots provides a strangely hypnotic feeling, which is not unpleasant.

O Trio in E Flat won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and on some levels the active viewing needed to make sense of the events will be a challenge. But it’s a commendable undertaking, even if it’s not entirely obvious how to add up the sum of all the different parts of the film.

Oliver Johnston

O Trio em Mi Bemol (The Kegelstatt Trio) does not yet have a UK release date.

Read more reviews of our 2022 Berlin Film Festival coverage here.

For more information on the event, visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.

Gerald R. Schneider