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Two Drifters

(2006) ** Unrated
101 min. Strand Releasing. Director: Joao Pedro Rodrigues. Cast: Ana Cristina De Oliveira, Nuno Gil, Joao Carreira, Teresa Madruga (II), Carloto Cotta.

João Pedro Rodrigues' twisted melodrama Two Drifters—titled Odete in its native Portugal—overreaches in its attempt to sculpt two troubled characters into two sides of the same coin. One is Rui (Nuno Gil), a gay man experiencing powerful grief after the death of his lover Pedro (João Carreira); the other is Odete (Ana Cristina De Oliveira), a supermarket employee whose desire for a child sends her over the edge.

Odete antagonizes Rui by claiming to have been Pedro's lover and insisting that she's carrying his child. The pregnancy is psychosomatic, and the woman's increasing obsession with Pedro, and refusal to leave Rui alone, lead to an unusual bond between the distraught man and the looney-tunes woman (and tired references—by way of Almodóvar—to Vertigo and Breakfast at Tiffanys).

The sexually outré resolution seems to be the film's raison d'etre, but Rodrigues, in a hurry for the first time in his langorous 101-minute picture, rushes headlong into the scene without carefully laying the groundwork, and the scenes to follow, which stood a chance of being the most interesting, never come. Rodrigues is more interested in the "acting out" of his pawns than the genuine character that would make their tragic behavior matter to us. Excellent lensing, colorful design, and attractive actors can't save Two Drifters from itself.

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