Drama/Romance/Thriller, 5 min 30 sec Log line: Your eyes. Big, round and black. Later on they were still stuck on me. Like buttons.


in just five minutes, the director manages to create the kind of hopeless love story that spans years…

Retratos do teu rosto (Portraits of Your Face) is a Portugese language short film from 2016. It was written, directed and produced by Marco Aurélio Gal, and stars Tânia Gaidarji as Voz and Tayná Caldas as Aluna, whose changing relationship we follow through the 5 minute 30 second runtime. This short film creates an arresting snapshot of the unseen moments that pass between us, interspersed with beautiful shots of the artwork in the The Museum of Sexual Diversity of the State of Sâo Paulo. The most striking thing for me about this film is the lack of diegetic sound. While we hear some general background noise in the museum scene, the main sound is the beautiful interweaving of Aluna’s overlying narration and a poignant soundtrack of guitar, violin and piano.
This absence of other sound forces us as the viewer to notice smaller details; the looks shared and unshared between the two girls, the proximity of their bodies, interspersed with artwork from the museum setting of this scene. Their names are never mentioned through the short film and so, for me, their roles become their names. Aluna is the watcher and Voz is the watched; she steals stolen looks at Voz, her yearning evident in her eyes which drink her in at any opportunity. We as the viewer get the sense that even as Aluna watches Luisa Moraleida in her role as the teacher in the opening scene, Aluna sees nothing but Voz as the narration paints a picture of her love. The camera often follows Voz as she studies the artwork around the museum and the viewer takes Aluna’s role of the watcher, and we too end up studying her as Aluna must have done countless times. It’s the stereotypical trope of so many films that the lover will gaze with obvious adoration at the object of their affection and the audience will think, “I wish someone would look at me like that”. As is the case in those films, we see here that if someone was looking at us like that, we would miss it because we were looking at something else. As Voz watches the different museum installations, so Aluna watches Voz.

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If the strength of Aluna’s attraction to Voz wasn’t evident to the audience through her hungry looks, her narration hammers it home. It is a heart-rendingly poetic overspill of her devotion; that she was lost before she met her, marvelling at her beauty, her “cascade of stars”. How fundamentally Voz has changed Aluna’s life is summed up in one line from Aluna’s emotional soliloquy; Aluna says she has “transformed herself into a satellite, destined to orbit one single trajectory…around your scorching body.” It’s Shakespearean in its language style, and star-crossed lovers seems to be the card Aluna and Voz are dealt as we see in the Wes Anderson style pink themed room which features on the film artwork. Throughout, the music changes to reflect Aluna’s emotions. It is tinkling and playful, so fast as almost to inspire tension in the audience as the girls draw closer. At the end, as Aluna laments their fate, “Your eyes, big, round and black…later on, they were still stuck on me. Like buttons…”, the piano has slowed right down almost to a funeral dirge and becomes slightly more hopeful towards the end – a bitter-sweet ending for a bitter-sweet encounter. This is a film for hopeless romantics, for loves found and lost; in just five minutes, the director manages to create the kind of hopeless love story that spans years. It managed to perfectly evoke for me the exquisite pain of unrequited love. Though there is certainly no picture perfect ending, as all hopeless romantics know, there is always a chance for redemption. Retratos do teu rosto (Portraits of Your Face) is available to watch now on Lesflicks VOD.  


Reviewer and Writer

Georgia is a paralegal for a learning and development company by day and a book, film and video game enthusiast by night. 

She  collects beautiful editions of books and has always been an advocate for LGBT representation in film and TV, having written her undergraduate dissertation on how the queer coding of villains in Disney films challenges the heteronormative agenda.