By Mónica Delgado

In this edition of Cannes, we joked several times among critics and journalists about the zombie theme that unintentionally, had overtaken the screens this year: the inauguration of the Jarmusch film, the Bonello film in La Quinzaine des Realizateurs, or the drowsy beings of the Mati Diop’s film. Alice Furtado’s Sick, Sick, Sick (Sem Sue Sengue) also follows this path.

Sick, sick, sick is, before everything, a story of obsessive love. And Alice Furtado avoids any conventional route to show it, appealing to a rarefied tone, of neon lights and post rock (you can hear the great band Rakta), to move through the anxiety-ridden environments of a teenager (Luisa Kosovski) who just lost her boyfriend. What could be described as a tale of grieving, is abstracted by Furtado and converted in pure atmosphere of underground pain, which turns towards strange situations where voodoo and the shadow of William Seabrook’s book The Magic Island (a book of travel chronicles in Haiti which first used the term “zombie” in 1929) are felt.

If it’s true that the film has moments which seem loose or don’t add too much to the story, little by little the ending manages to make sense of all the clues given, and the protagonist shows us, from her inexpressiveness, a way of working out the mourning or its resistance. Everything in Sick, sick, sick is focused in the body and its driving forces, even though the way that Furtado chooses to show this isn’t a direct one, since she appeals to details, suggestions and insinuations. The sick protagonist doesn’t eat, doesn’t seem to enjoy anything, and decides to get away in a faraway beach as a way to cure her wounds, however, not everything is as it seems and the journey turns into a route to the symbolic encounter with death.

The most accomplished feature of this first feature by Furtado, presented in the Quinzaine des Realizateurs, is its use of the soundtrack, which helps the film to configure a colorful or bizarre staging (which in moments reminds us of some uses in Yann Gonzalez’ cinema) where neon (under the eye of Felipe Quinteras) marks a way to daydreaming and opens the doors of the beyond.

Quincena de Realizadores
Director: Alice Furtado
Script: Alice Furtado, Leonardo Levis
Music: Orlando Scarpa Neto
Cinematography: Felipe Quintelas
Cast: Sílvia Buarque,  Luiza Kosovski,  Lourenço Mutarelli,  Ismar Tirelli Neto,  Juan Paiva, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart,  Digão Ribeiro
Production company: Estúdio Giz / BALDR Film / IKKI Films
Brazil, France, Netherlands, 104 mins, 2019