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Tempo (João Pedro Rodrigues x Gabriel Yared, 2023)

NotesPart of Special Issue1: 25X250

Tempo opens with a shot of a small neighborhood square, whose quaintness is matched by the harmonic phrasing of Gabriel Yared’s musical score. Yet while the music motifs remain melodious throughout the film, João Pedro Rodrigues’s abrupt image sequences undermine an atmosphere of safety and pleasantness. The filmmaker’s use of 16mm color film offers a sense of the fantastic divorced from the time and setting of everyday city life. Atop a hill, the camera pans across the surrounding neighborhood before landing on a bloodied prosthetic hand and leg disposed in the bushes. As in Rodrigues’s film The Ornithologist (2016), the threat of danger is intimately linked with the staging of queer desire. A man in Tempo runs down a sidewalk, stopping to kiss and embrace another man. Shortly afterwards, another man returns to the hill, and the camera voyeuristically tracks him wandering the trails alone and waiting beneath an olive tree for an erotic encounter that never arrives. Throughout Tempo, the wayward movement of queer desire is intercut with shots of transportation throughout the city—cars, bicycles, scooters, a ferry ride, and trains at a station. These rational technologies of modern mobility form a counterpart to the irrational upsurges of desire that propel lone wanderers into the dark heart of the city. The film ends at dusk with the camera slowly panning across an empty park, leaving the film’s audience idling behind a tree in anticipation for the onrush of an adventure.