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João Nicolau | Technoboss

João Nicolau | Technoboss

[…] «Technoboss» is a film that surprises, or rather is a hilarious, at times melancholic, operetta, as the director said. The film escapes any definition of the genre because it distorts the conventions of several genres at the same time, starting with musicals.

Filmexplorer could meet the director of the film, João Nicolau, at the Locarno Film Festival, to discuss several aspects of the film.

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The filmic comic character is traditionally uncomfortable with technology. In slapstick comedies, we often see him as a victim of the latest discoveries of modernity. Great silent film comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Roscoe Arbuckle have often built their characters from an almost natural aversion to objects belonging to industrial culture. Another illustrious example is that of Tati who has made technological ineptitude an unmistakable trait of his Mr. Hulot. One might think that the comic character is basically a reactionary, but in reality, this is not so: his technophobia is not an aim, but a means by which to convey the fragility, the fickleness or even the creativity of human beings.

Luís Rovisco, the protagonist of Technoboss (the new film directed by Portuguese director João Nicolau in competition at the Locarno Film Festival), fits into this tradition with great originality. When he retires, Luís works in a company that deals with security and surveillance systems and various technologies, but without being able to offer the technical assistance that customers expect from him: the new devices do not seem to speak the same language as he does.

The narrative basis for a dramatic story about the obsolescence of an older worker's knowledge seems to be there. In fact, Luís Rovisco is at ease with himself, with his limitations and defects, and he is aware that his qualities as a salesman are still the best on the market. It is the director himself, in our interview, who recognizes the "normality" of his dramatic creation which, however, is one of the most successful film creatures of the last Locarno edition. The credit goes to his interpreter, Miguel Lobo Antunes, who, despite this being his debut, showed his skills as an experienced actor. 

Technoboss is a film that surprises, or rather is a hilarious, at times melancholic, operetta, as the director said. The film escapes any definition of the genre because it distorts the conventions of several genres at the same time, starting with musicals. The director's intention is not to wink at the film-loving audience in the postmodern way, but to create a universe in which the viewer is always aware that they are faced with a fiction film. This is also confirmed by the insistent presence of painted backgrounds during some scenes. Despite the Brechtian effect of estrangement, Technoboss still manages to make the viewer feel close to its protagonist and his emotions.

Text: Mattia Lento | Audio/Video: Manuela Ruggeri

First published: August 28, 2019

Technoboss | Film | João Nicolau | PT-FR 2019 | 112’ | Locarno Film Festival 2019

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