Porto (Blu-ray)

March 19, 2018 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

In one of his final performances before his tragic death, Anton Yelchin delivers another fine performance in Porto. It reminds us what a talented young actor he was. While my thoughts on the film itself remain mixed, I think it’s worth seeing for those wanting to see one of Yelchin’s final roles, but beyond that the film is something of a chore to sit through. It makes it easy, though since star Luci Lucas is very easy on the eyes, but even then the film can only skate by on mundane conversations for so long. Our two central characters are what carry us through the film, but the film becomes a frustrating experience in repetitiveness that grows tiring long before the 70 some minute running time is up.

Yelchin plays Jake, he’s in 20’s and wanders through life without much purpose or direction. Through casual conversation (and there’s a lot of it here), we learn that he’s had various jobs and doesn’t really care; he’ll do anything for work. He meets Mati (Luci Lucas) one night and she’s a French student older than him. She’s in her 30’s and both have their flaws. We learn that Mati has some issues and is having an affair with an older professor. Jake and Mati get close, so close that one night they have passionate sex. Much to Jake’s surprise, however, Mati leaves him and marries the professor. They even have a child together. What’s so frustrating about the film is that it shifts around back and forth in time, repeating certain scenes and conversations only to be picked up again later. This gimmick grows old fast.

Without sounding insensitive, especially since he is no longer with us, Anton Yelchin just didn’t look healthy to me in this film. This was sadly something that kept entering my mind as I watched him on screen. He’s pale, always appears exhausted, and with an already receding hairline, he looks much older than his character is supposed to be. I’m unsure if this was a deliberate decision to make him appear this way, but it caught me a bit off guard. This made it a bit hard to believe that a girl like Mati would fall for Jake. She has such an easy, natural beauty while he’s a bit hard to look at sometimes.

Video: How’s it look?

The film uses a mix of 35MM, 16MM and Super 8, so with that in mind, I’ll judge the transfer accordingly as much of the look seems intentional. There’s some noticeable grain in certain scenes, but again, I feel that’s how the director intended. At other times, the transfer is visually striking, with sharp contrast and details. The image is AVC encoded with a change in ratios at time that are intentional. I feel it suits the film just as intended.

Audio: How’s it sound?

We get a 5.1 track that suits the film well. There’s some background noise in a few scenes with rowdy people in the streets or in bars, but mostly the dialogue is what the selling point here is. Since vocals dominate, at least there’s a strong clarity throughout. The track is relatively straightforward, but I feel it works fine for this film.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – Co-Writer and Director Gabe Klinger provides a decent commentary track here. He spends a little too much time narrating and watching what’s on screen, but there’s some good info.
  • Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater – This is a 70 minute documentary that will be the selling point for many. Unfortunately it bored me to tears, but to each their own.
  • Making of Documentary – At a little more than 4 minutes, this can hardly be called a doc. It’s a fairly useless piece.
  • Portuguese News Report
  • Super 8 footage with Chantal Akerman’s unused voiceover.
  • Outtakes
  • Trailer
  • Booklet insert/essay

The Bottom Line

There is indeed an intended audience for this sort of film, but it left me scratching my head most of the time. It was bittersweet seeing Anton Yelchin again, but he didn’t appear too well in this film. While Lucie Lucas was easy on the eyes, I just can’t recommend this film as it was too meandering for its own good.

Disc Scores