Giddy Portuguese comedy that combines strident satire and strained whimsicality

There is a giddy, hysterical comic fizz to Diamantino that cannot be denied. It takes off in all directions at once, scattering wild ideas and silly japes as it goes. However, it is so relentlessly juvenile that a little of it goes a very long way. This collaboration between Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt betrays a wide range of influences, from early Almodóvar farce and Austin Powers spoofery to John Waters via the Monty Python team. The result is a heady mixture in which strident satire is constantly fighting it out with strained whimsicality.

Cristiano Ronaldo lookalike Carloto Cotta stars as Diamantino, a beloved icon in Portugal, who is considered the greatest football player on the planet. He sweeps up the pitch, accompanied in his mind by giant fluffy puppies trailing clouds of candy-colored dust. His fleet-footed poetry and toned, copper-tanned body are his fortunes. He even has his own line of bedding and underwear. A fatal error at the 2018 World Cup final and the death of his father send our hero hurtling over the edge towards an existential crisis.

Cotta is endearingly stupid as Diamantino but the hectic, mind-boggling plot pitches him into events that seem even dumber than him. The search for redemption finds him adopting a refugee and becoming the dupe of a neo-fascist organization intent on making Portugal great again. That’s before the introduction of pantomime baddie sisters, lesbian lovers, the spectre of Brexit and a diabolical scheme to clone Diamantino and create an invincible Portuguese team.

Abrantes and Schmidt make their modest budget stretch and the film is a riot of gaudy colors and low-cost special effects. There are some stray, scattered laughs to be found here and there, but ultimately Diamantino is more exhausting than entertaining.

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