The difference between movies and television is contained in Horse Money, Pedro Costa’s Art—art with a capital A—film about a hospitalized black immigrant in Portugal. Whereas television focuses on character, plot, and incident, some films transcend mere storytelling by creating a visual atmosphere, often becoming a patchwork of moods and tones. Dreamy and masterfully composed, as if each frame was a photograph, Horse Money is just that. That’s not to say that the movie isn’t baffling, boring, and too long. It’s a delight to Costa fans and people with knowledge of Portuguese history. Yet, even to people without such knowledge, Horse Money communicates the postcolonial African experience, proletariat politics, and corruption in a rigorously formal way. The results are ugly and beautiful.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White