Does the world need a whackadoodle faux-biopic about a Ronaldo-like soccer star who sees his opponents not as humans but as giant Pekingese bounding through pink clouds? Though the answer might not be a full-throated yes!, the cinematic universe is certainly more exciting with Diamantino in it. The film, a collaboration between co-writers and co-directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, starts at the end of the titular Portuguese soccer god Diamantino (Carloto Cotta)’s sporting career. After flubbing a high stakes goal, Diamantino decides to hang up his cleats for good. From there, the immaculately-groomed Diamantino embarks on a quest in which he confronts fascism, adopts an orphaned refugee (who turns out to be a spy), considers the nature of the human mind and takes on his evil twin sisters.

Though the plot is absolutely bonkers, it is relatively easy to follow, and it is a testament to the intelligence of Abrantes and Schmidt’s script that Diamantino’s quest is more thought-provoking than laugh-out-loud. There are certainly laughs, but they come more from the absurdity of the scenarios (and the sheer exuberance of the film’s cotton candy visuals) than from jokes. One thing that the filmmakers narrow in on particularly well is the insanity of both celebrity and soccer worship. The dim Diamantino is treated as royalty, and while his talent on the soccer field is real, the life he leads as a result of his talent is one of comic excess. However, viewers who are also soccer fans will note that this part of the film doesn’t veer too far from reality; soccer stars like Ronaldo (on whom Diamantino is obviously modeled) do live lives of wild privilege.

The crazier parts of the plot involve female spy Aisha, who comes to investigate Diamantino in the disguise of a teenage male refugee named Rahim. Diamantino adopts Rahim, or at least thinks he does, and their relationship awkwardly and inevitably turns romantic. Also complicating matters are Diamantino’s aforementioned awful sisters, who sell him to Portugal’s propaganda office, which allow the filmmakers to spoof the worst of global politics. In particular, President Trump’s obsession with celebrity makes Diamantino’s political journey seem less satirical than maybe it should, which makes for satisfying viewing.

And that’s the fine line that Diamantino balances so well. Though Diamantino himself will invite comparisons to Forrest Gump because of his earnestness and dimwittedness, his exploits are less a tour through history and more a keen look into the world we live in today. Diamantino’s spray-tanned buttocks, the pink and purple clouds that invade the screen and the one-note villains are all simply camouflage for a truly intelligent piece of filmmaking.

That said, there is so much crazy happening in Diamantino that it is hard not to wish that the directors would have pushed the envelope a bit. While some of the proceedings sound taboo, onscreen they are all rather tame, and even the film’s forays into full-front nudity are oddly chaste. Given how sexualized real-life celebrities in similar positions to Diamantino are, it would have been interesting for the filmmakers to lean in further on both the narcissism and fetishization that a real-life Diamantino would encounter. And since the lines between fantasy and reality are so purposefully blurred here, the potential for a wild and bold look at the homoeroticism of male sports superstar is here, just not exploited.

Diamantino tackles some weighty themes with a surprising amount of intelligence, and the writing and performances are consistently strong and funny while the visuals are stimulating and surprising throughout. It would have been great if Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt would have gone a little bit crazier, given the potential here, but Diamantino is still one of the wackier films to come along in a while.

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