A charmingly breezy, supremely accessible essay, From New York with Love traces Portuguese documentary filmmaker André Valentim Almeida's love-hate relationship with New York City and his own country throughout a period he spent in the US in 2009. Mr. Almeida handles smartly a toy box of ideas and effects to mirror the construction of this handheld paean to the Big Apple, shot with a Panasonic LX3 camera and edited on his laptop.

     The director meditates on love, home and the American dream by juxtaposing his thoughts on the city with those of thinkers such as Roland Barthes or Robert Bresson, in a multimedia sequence of epiphanies set to collages of self-shot footage and film excerpts. What makes From New York with Love more than just a charming bedsit oddity is Mr. Almeida's clever appropriation of techniques to illustrate the actual construction of the film - as his thoughts about the importance New York gained to him coalesce, so does the film, slowly gaining shape as he experiments with structure and style, introducing a narrator only after 15 minutes of subtitles and various attempts at commentary and written cards.

     That playfulness gives the film a touching, elegant personality that never avoids the sense that Mr. Almeida extends the film beyond what his concept allows, as it slowly becomes more rigid and less interesting after the 45-minute mark. It doesn't make From New York with Love less interesting, but suggests a tighter running time might have helped.

Director, writer, cinematographer (color), editor and producer, André Valentim de Almeida, Portugal, 2012, 71 minutes.
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2012 advance screener, Lisbon, April 19th 2012. 


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