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Saint George

(São Jorge)
Portugal/France 2016. Dir: Marco Martins. 112 min. DCP

The gritty third feature from Portuguese writer-director Marco Martins (Alice, How to Draw a Perfect Circle) is a brooding, bare-knuckled drama that holds a sobering mirror to Portugal’s recent economic hardships. Taciturn former-boxer Jorge (Nuno Lopes) is barely scraping by, like many after the 2011 crash. At risk of losing his family without a steady pay cheque — his wife wants to return to her native Brazil with their son, whom he adores — a desperate Jorge takes a job as a debt collector, providing muscle to the agency’s lowlife, door-knocking goons. When he refuses to rough-up a local businessman who’s defaulted on his loans, the onetime pugilist, now in deep with the sharks, must deal with the consequences. “Martins shows that he has fully taken on board the lessons learned from masters Wim Wenders, Pedro Costa, and Manoel de Oliveira” (Camillo de Marco, Cineuropa). In Portuguese with English subtitles.