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Muito romântico | Melissa Dullius & Gustavo Jahn

[…] The formation (“Bildung”), the nomadism, the irony, the self-portrait, the private hero, the experiential dialectic of discovering and returning (home), the coincidence of life and artwork, the “Sehnsucht”, the fragment: all of these romantic elements make “Muito romântico” a “very romantic” work.

[…] Moreover, their filmic inventions convey meanings without being merely examples of those meanings. In this, the emotional layer overcomes the conceptual layer, even if the inspiration of any particular episode seems to be rooted in precise formal reflections.

Melissa Dullius and Gustavo Jahn travel with a cargo ship from the south of Brazil to Germany. While at sea they start filming themselves to tell the story of their ten years in Berlin. It is not only the artistic story of two artists, but more the love story of two lovers. It is a romance; therefore, it is romantic.

But Muito romântico can also be seen as a modern reinterpretation of the specific aesthetic of classical romanticism, for the film seems to follow the typical path of the classical Bildungsroman. Their experience in Germany is an experience of formation, from a naive youth to a more conscious adult age. Their nomadic souls challenge the loving bond. The mundane of their experiences makes them lose their way: they experience the distance that lies between them, a distance to which their ironic attitude and the practice of self-portraits largely contribute. Thus, they start to rediscover one another, giving their relationship a new chance. On this path, which resembles the pattern of the sonata-form, their personalities are those of private heroes – another feature of literary romanticism – and the telling structure is composed by little episodes, which recall nothing but the romantic model of the fragment, where life and artwork coincide – again, a typically romantic character. Behind their impulse to discover, a proper Sehnsucht – or, probably, a more specific saudade… – grows. One time it is the Brazilian heimat, at another time it is the lost complicity between the two. In fact, the nostalgic aspect of romantic Sehnsucht takes the modern form of vintage aesthetics, which is so typical of the Berliner style of life. This vintage aesthetic is also expressed through the choice of using a 16mm camera, the systematic use of the three basic colours, the saturation of colours. Yes, Muito romântico is also the witness, and the document, of Berlin’s genius loci. The formation (Bildung), the nomadism, the irony, the self-portrait, the private hero, the experiential dialectic of discovering and returning (home), the coincidence of life and artwork, the Sehnsucht, the fragment: all of these romantic elements make Muito romântico a “very romantic” work.

In Brazilian Portuguese, “muito” means “very”, but also “too much”. And Muito romântico, in being “very romantic” is also so romantic that it becomes “too romantic”. Melissa and Gustavo like to go far in their experiences, and the filmic episodes saturate the experiences they have. In Muito romântico we learn a language made from associations, almost in a surrealist vein, of symbolic expressions or, better, of expressive symbolism – not without some ironic hints of kitsch. Ironically, they are able to exceed the romantic codes. Moreover, their filmic inventions convey meanings without being merely examples of those meanings. In this, the emotional layer overcomes the conceptual layer, even if the inspiration of any particular episode seems to be rooted in precise formal reflections. Actually, we have the impression that the two filmmakers are constantly building their own artistic language, and it is a particularly enjoyable experience for the audience to follow their open paths or a discourse that is made of many open-ended sentences. The perfect balance between the formal and the emotional, and a narration that builds its aesthetic language through the film itself are perhaps the two main ingredients that constitute the secret force of this romantic film.

Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore | Audio/Video: Ruth Baettig
First published: January 31, 2017

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