When I was alone, he touched me on the arm and said “Diego, you destroyed all my desire to see a movie”, and laughed. It was Mimi, who, together with her husband, Edmundo, has lunch practically every day at the same restaurant as me. They came from Brazil a few years ago, “life in Rio was unbearable, I was afraid to go out into the street”, Edmundo once told me in one of the many conversations we had over lunch, like good neighbors at a restaurant who don’t know each other by name. for no other reason than that, that of sharing a preference for the place they chose to have lunch. If you think about it, it’s an important trait to have in common with someone.
It was in one of these conversations that, recently and while we were interweaving worldly and social perceptions with shared musical and literary preferences, we talked about what’s new in cinema. I, who unfortunately have not frequented the amphitheaters of the city as much as I would like, said “my last experience was not a very happy one”. I wanted to know what movie I went to see. “The Fabelmans, by Spielberg,” I said. “And you didn’t like it?” No, I didn’t.
Mimi touched my arm and launched the sentence as if accusing me of having spoiled all the charm she had prepared to receive in her spirit and in her memory a film that she anticipated to be brilliant – or, at least, worth the effort. money invested in the ticket. “It’s just my opinion,” I defended myself. “The best thing is to see it and draw your own conclusions”, I insisted, but at this point Edmundo intervened and said “I immediately hated the trailer – the actors don’t even look like people because of how much makeup and color they are, they look more like dolls.”
Mimi looked at me. “Is that what you think, Diego?” I shrugged my shoulders, it was an aspect that did not catch my attention, “in technical aspects, I thought the film was decent; I didn’t like, for example, the edition”. “So tell me what you think, in detail. I want to hear your critique.” I tried to remain coherent with regard to the previous conversation with Edmundo. I spoke of the clichés, “it’s a collection of tricks from movies that are on TV on Sunday afternoons,” I said, as Mimi looked astonished. “Like this? The Spielberg?” and I “yes, it’s true”. I tried to justify, as elegantly as possible, what seemed to me the author’s choice: “He has a lot of experience and is a virtuoso, so he used everything he knew – including the trick of the quarterback bully who messes with the weakest and loses.”
Edmund nodded, fully convinced, but Mimi still looked suspicious. So I tried to be more concrete. “Imagine, it’s a bit like Draxler.” Both eyes widened. I decided to proceed. “Since he arrived at Benfica, we have very high expectations for him”, I explained. And it’s true, Benfica fans believe that there, under those layers of skin and muscle that rarely move in the right direction or with the desired precision, there is a star player, a player who was once a world champion, who represented other great clubs, who possesses technical quality, strength, vision, determination and creativity. “You see, that’s what happens with Spielberg: we expect a lot from him, but every time something new comes out, we’re disappointed and think ‘maybe next time it’ll go better’”.
The weight of Mimi’s countenance increased as the explanation went on. I know that expression well – it’s the expression with which my friends react to my disapproving speeches about players who arrive in the team and on whom great hopes fall, but who then do not live up to what is expected of them. “I don’t comment on expectations, I only comment on what I see”, I tend to say, and thus I am immune to the supporters of “yes, but” – “yes, but he made great performances in the national team”, “yes, but he is not here playing in his natural position”, “yes, but here there is no one to serve him like he did at Shakhtar Donetsk”, “yes, but he comes from an injury to his left ankle”: “I repeat: I only comment on what I see, what I note, I do not comment on expectations.”
Mimi looked at me a little incredulous, but her gaze didn’t move me. “Look, it’s just like Spielberg, right down to the budget. They consume millionaire resources, which further increases the expectation we already had, and then they invariably fall short. See that move in Paços de Ferreira.” “In Paços de Ferreira?” asked an intrigued Mimi, squinting her eyes and looking at Edmundo. “The Spielberg in Paços de Ferreira?” “No, Mimi: the Draxler. Draxler made a sad figure in Paços de Ferreira. All he needed was to step on the ball and fall.” Laugh.
I gave a few more examples of how one didn’t have the edge to cross, while the other didn’t have the courage to cut – “this film is an exercise in spectator saturation”, I would have said –; if one doesn’t fit into the team and its dynamics, the other doesn’t seem to understand contemporary cinema either, seems to have been stuck with the commonplaces that made him a master in the 70s and 80s. childish or naive, each in their own way.”
Edmundo and Mimi looked at me in silence. They looked confused. Until Mimi asked, “Who is this Draxler anyway?”