Dir.: Antonio Ferrera; Cast: Filipe Costa, Claudia Carvalho, Laura Matos; Portuga/Spain/Brazil 2010, 83 min.
Antonio Ferrara specialises in stories of the absurd – his 2018 feature The Dead Queen is based on a historical novel about a 14th century Portuguese king who had his mistress disinterred, so that she could become Queen. Embargo is a far lighter affair that follows Nuno, a madcap inventor.
Based on the novel by Jose Saramago, Ferrara pictures his hero Nuno (Costa) in the midst of a fuel crisis in contemporary Portugal, selling his revolutionary shoe scanner to everyone who shows a mild interest. He works part time on a hot dog stand, and his long-suffering girl friend Margarida (Carvalho) has to labour full time and look after their two children. Even though Nuno is hellbent on making his device a commercial success customers, nobody has any idea what practical use it could have. Eventually after various trials and tribulations, Nino is sacked from his day job and goes on the hunt for a toy rabbit, to make his daughter Sara (Matos) happy.
Nuno is a loafer par-excellence. Charming and funny, he could be the ideal companion – if he could earn a living. But his obsession with his machine takes over more and more of his life. Made on a shoe string budget, this debut of Ferrara is a labour of love, where crew and cast made up for the lack of budget with much enthusiasm and passion, even. There are some holes in the narrative, but Embargo is fun to watch, without the claim of being anything but light entertainment. AS