Leao, an immigrant worker living in Portugal, has a terrible accident while working his job in construction, ultimately leaving him in a coma. Mariana is the nurse assigned to take care of Leao, who herself is very dissatisfied with her life, leading her to agree to return with Leo to his home town, a small village in Cape Verde. When Mariana arrives in this foreign environment, everything is alien to her from everyday life to the medical practices, with Mariana slowly discovering the hopelessness which engulfs this town. Pedro Costa's House of Lava is a esoteric drama that deals with themes of immigration and cultural differences in telling the story of Mariana. Much of the film is spent follow Mariana as she meets different people in Cape Verde, each seemingly more hopeless than the last. One of the characters even confesses to Mariana, saying "Not even the dead stay here", showing the misery and despair that has engulfed this town. There is a sense of depression and hopelessness that surrounds this town with Costa using a great combination of minimalism and surrealism. A few times throughout the film Costa inter-cuts shots of festering volcanoes, suggesting that this town of Cape Verde and its population are on the verge of being wiped out or potentially exploding into some form of revolution. The pacing of the film will leave less patient viewers checking their watches but Costa has created a story about a small town that simply wreaks of hopelessness and despair, showing this through the character of Mariana, a woman who realizes how well she actually has it. Pedro Costa has such a unique ability to peer into the souls of his subjects, making the viewer truly appreciate and feel for their struggle on a level that is deeply resonate and organic. This doesn't just come from the story either, but just from the humanistic characters he is is able to capture with his incredibly poetic visual style. At times I did find that some of the characters relationships and connections among one and other were a little hard to follow but ultimately it's not a big deal because of the larger thematic elements as well as Mariana's character's eye opening experience.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.