In Lisbon, two women from different worlds — a privileged architectural illustrator and a cheerful housekeeper from the city’s Guinean community — join together to save a young Guinean girl from ritual genital mutilation, in this sensitive and intimate second feature from immensely talented Portuguese director Inês Oliveira.




Inês Oliveira

The second feature from the immensely talented Portuguese director Inês Oliveira, Bobô is quiet yet emotionally rich, a gorgeously composed film that exudes a maturity well beyond Oliveira's stillmodest resumé. A sensitive exploration of grief, traditions, and transcendence, Bobô is about reaching out, letting go, and confronting inner demons.

Sofia (Paula Garcia) is being visited in her recurring dream by a costumed, machete-wielding figure when Mariama (Aissatu Indjai) arrives at her door. Hired by Sofia's mother to help with the housework, Mariama is not initially welcomed by Sofia, an architectural illustrator who just wants to be left alone with her work, her classical music records, and her collection of figurines. But Mariama's cheerfulness, trustworthiness, and work ethic quickly win over her new employer — even when she defies house rules and enters that mysterious room down the hall where someone once lived long ago, a space eerily frozen in time.

Although there are moments of great dynamism in Bobô, most often it gives the impression of glimpsing something intimate — there are elegant shots, partially obscured by doorways, that find characters praying or attempting to soothe loneliness with some fleeting sexual satisfaction. But these scenes of isolation recede once little Bobô (Luana Quadé) enters the picture. Like Mariama, the child is part of the local Guinean community, where female genital mutilation is still practiced — something Mariama is determined to spare Bobô from experiencing.

Rich with quiet surprises, Bobô radiates a joy for life and a sense of wonder at the strange paths our lives can take en route to wisdom and healing.



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