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Adolescent Adventures and Self-Discovery in a World of Magic and Chaos

Sadness and Joy in the Life of Giraffes (Tristeza e Alegria na Vida das Girafas)


Genre: Drama, Adventure
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 49m
Director(s): Tiago Guedes
Writer(s): Tiago Guedes, Tiago Rodrigues (Play)
Cast: Maria Abreu, Tonan Quito, Miguel Borges
Where To Watch: North American premiere on IndiePix Unlimited March 24, 2023 available on Amazon and where DVDs are sold

RAVING REVIEW: SADNESS AND JOY IN THE LIFE OF GIRAFFES is a whimsical and engaging coming-of-age drama that expertly walks the line between being a deep drama and an entertaining fun story filled with imagination. Set in the captivating city of Lisbon, the film chronicles the extraordinary journey of a young girl and her larger-than-life, imaginary teddy bear as they endeavor to unlock life's greatest secrets. The movie is an adaptation of the brilliant play by esteemed Portuguese playwright Tiago Gomes Rodrigues, brought to life on the silver screen by the inventive Tiago Guedes.

The plot centers on a witty (sometimes too much for her good) 10-year-old girl with an undying love for learning and a mission to make sense of the world for a school assignment. With her trusty yet somewhat jaded teddy bear, she embarks on a journey through Lisbon's enchanting streets, confronting various obstacles, including a national economic crisis, a cryptic guard, and other fun visuals and challenges.

SADNESS AND JOY IN THE LIFE OF GIRAFFES has earned considerable acclaim, including the Best Adapted Screenplay award at the 2020 Portuguese Film Academy’s Sophia Awards and the Best Picture nomination at the Guadalajara International Film Festival. The film beautifully captures the heart-wrenching journey of growing up, embracing life's tender moments, and striking a balance between the joys and sorrows that permeate the protagonist's imaginative world.

As the film's lead, Maria Abreu gives a remarkable performance, essential to the film's triumph, showcasing natural talent and composure well beyond her years. Her character's affinity for dictionaries, The Discovery Channel,  and an expansive vocabulary is endearing. The supporting cast, including the charming teddy bear who adds a touch of humor, contributes emotional depth and inventiveness to their roles. Not to mention more foul language than you’d expect from a stuffed animal.

Lisbon's breathtaking cityscape provides the perfect backdrop for SADNESS AND JOY IN THE LIFE OF GIRAFFES, a locale where enchantment and chaos coexist. Our protagonist and her teddy bear navigate this charming setting, dodging metaphorical black panthers and appealing to the Prime Minister in their quest to locate the ever-elusive Discovery Channel. The film blends humor, heartbreak, innocence, and experience, creating a rich mosaic of childlike wonder and grown-up sensibilities.

SADNESS AND JOY IN THE LIFE OF GIRAFFES, through the director's nostalgic lens, whisks us back to a time of limitless imagination and unblemished innocence. The film deftly contrasts the protagonist's untarnished outlook with the sobering realities of a world beset by political and economic turmoil.

Furthermore, the film offers a profoundly moving tragic comedy that delves into the anguish of loss and the personal growth that arises from life's most arduous journeys. It explores the dualities that shape our existence: purity and cynicism, joy and sadness, past and future.

The protagonist, akin to a character from a Wes Anderson film (I saw someone else mention that,) captivates with her poised demeanor and elaborate speech patterns. The supporting cast, including the lively father figure and the expletive-prone teddy bear, strike the perfect balance between humor and heartfelt performances. The film's ingenious soundtrack further enhances the overall experience.

In conclusion, SADNESS AND JOY IN THE LIFE OF GIRAFFES offers a riveting exploration of the complexities of adolescence and the voyage of self-discovery. It transports viewers to childhood innocence while simultaneously revealing adult life's unforgiving realities. With its extraordinary cast, emotional storytelling, and striking cinematography, this film is a must-watch for movie lovers and casual viewers alike.

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[photo courtesy of INDIE PIX FILMS]

Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.