Arabian Nights Vol. 2

“a sensual and intellectual feast.” - Variety

If “The Restless One” seemed the perfect title for the first part of Miguel Gomes’ opulently undisciplined opus Arabian Nights - signaling its tangled, distracted nesting of stories within stories - “desolate” is hardly the adjective for its fertile, often uproarious middle section. It does, however, aptly indicate a certain narrative calming: Only three tales are told here by the project’s wily mythical narrator Scheherazade, though one in particular sprawls and subdivides itself in such alluringly vine-like fashion that viewers will hardly notice 133 minutes ticking by. The crushing social impact of Portugal’s recent austerity policies remains the running theme here, though Volume Two features less stinging rhetoric than its predecessor, as whimsical satire gradually segues into observational tragicomedy. “The Desolate One” maintains the technical majesty of this intimate epic’s first volume. Shooting in sun-dried hues on gorgeously textured Kodak film, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s lensing once more finds a kind of dynamism in serenity - and beauty in dilapidation, as the poky apartments of the final section are swathed in fifty shades of smoke.

Guy Lodge Variety