the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Elizabeth Bishop – Extract of One Art
Before losing Lota de Macedo Soares, Elizabeth Bishop had to win her. Some looks, some words and an infinite shyness were enough. Then, she had to keep her. And to keep her, the key was not to lose herself.
Cold and passionate, pessimistic and involuntarily hopeful, the American poet finds in the Brazilian architect an alter-ego, a solid, complete and steady individual where she is just a fragile and unassured woman. They share everything: love, success, ambitions and addictions, until the strengths become weaknesses and the weaknesses become strengths. Maybe that’s how you learn the art of losing.
Not being very intimate with Bishop’s life and poetry (I actually discovered the poem « One Art » when reading Love letters to the Dead), I wouldn’t be able to tell if Bruno Barreto’s movie is accurate. What I can tell is that it was pleasant. It was initially surprising, sometimes unbalanced, rarely flat and always soft and subtile. Light, even. Too light? The actresses (Miranda Otto – LOTR’s Eowyn – and Glória Pires, who are both very good) make the story more than the images do. This is a pity that such a poetry could not be depicted on the screen.
But honestly, could have it even been possible to make a 1h54 movie as sharply observed, as precisely shaped, as full of sense – as beautiful – as Bishop’s words?