When Portuguese writer/director Carlos Amaral (“Por Diabos”) sat down to work out the story of “Infinite Sea,” I’m sure he found the idea fascinating and full of promise, as did I when I first heard of his film.
The story takes place in a bleak, near empty city somewhere in Portugal. It isn’t named, but the few people we meet speak Portuguese, so … Whether it is part of our world or some parallel world doesn’t matter. The city doesn’t appear damaged, the utilities function, and the atmosphere, while dreary, is not obviously dangerous. Occasionally a distant rocket takes off, headed for a new Eden, a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. That star is 4.24 light years from our own, so you can imagine the travel time for people living in a world with technology comparable to our own. For those of you who can’t, it would take about 6,300 years.
This dystopian view of near times for our planet, heralded almost weekly in the popular media and further enhanced by sci-fi film makers, is not unlike the backstory of the seminal film “Blade Runner”, itself based on “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. Author Dick was an expert at literarily posing the questions: “What is my real identity, and is what I’m experiencing reality?” Those elements are alive and well in Amaral’s film.
We are first introduced to Miguel (Nuno Nolasco), a computer software writer who has been rejected for off world resettlement because his psychological profile shows problems. But, he has a plan. He’s written a computer code which, if he can gain access to the databank which holds his information, would change his profile to one of an approved settler. However, it’s a long process – months long – and he has hardware problems.
One of his pastimes is swimming at an enormous natatorium. He doesn’t really swim – just sort of floats. There is only one other person in the place, Eva (Maria Leite), who swims very well. Eventually they strike up a relationship which becomes romantic. Miguel explains what he is trying to do to be able to leave for Proxima Centari, and Eva hopes they can meet there.
The dystopia of “Infinite Sea” is very different from that of “Blade Runner” or its progenitor novel. It is unremittingly bleak, even if physically intact. “Blade Runner” may have painted a decaying society in a polluted world, but it was still well populated and vibrant in a gritty way. The performances of the actors are equally different. Miguel and Eva inhabit a sort of limbo world, neither fully here nor elsewhere. The characters in “Blade Runner” were demonstrably, carnally, here.
I am unsure of Amaral’s intent, but the story he creates is one of interminable waiting in a world that has lost the capacity to care, and in which very little happens. If that was his intent, he has succeeded. Otherwise, what he has given us is just an “Infinite Snore.”
Runtime: One hour, 18 minutes
Availability: Opens March 24, 2023
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