Following 2016’s The Ornithologist, it’s been quite a wait for the next feature from João Pedro Rodrigues. It finally arrived at last year’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight with Will-o’-the-Wisp, a delightfully sexual and imaginative queer firefighter musical fantasy. Now set for a May 26 release beginning at IFC Center, featuring the director in person and screening with his 2019 short Potemkin Steps, the new U.S. trailer has arrived from Strand Releasing.
Here’s the synopsis: “On his deathbed, his royal highness Alfredo, king without a crown, is taken back to distant youth memories and the time he dreamt of becoming a fireman. The encounter with instructor Afonso from the fire brigade opens a new chapter in the life of the two young men immersed in love and desire, and the will to change the status quo.”
“I absolutely wanted to make a comedy,” said the director. “I’d already approached the genre with To Die Like a Man. Comedy is the most difficult genre to do successfully, and it is a genre to which I am greatly attracted. Will-O’-The-Wisp is a comedy and a musical, yet the description that would best fit my film is: fantasy, as it is much akin to a reverie. The film touches upon very concrete themes and at the same time it begins like a science-fiction film, as we are in 2069. This is what makes my approach to comedy somewhat offbeat.”
Ethan Vestby said in his review, “Rodrigues certainly runs through a lot of ideas in his brief runtime (even weaving in the pandemic), and there’s something refreshing that it almost doesn’t try to be a perfect film per se. The director, an arthouse formalist with a little more sense of buoyancy than many of his festival peers, makes sure to prevent the journey from ever being boring, even if the still, symmetrical tableaus that make up the early-goings point to a bit of art-film self-parody. Yet things come lightened up by more classical film language once Alfredo gets to the firehouse, not to mention some steamy gay foreplay for anyone interested in that.”
Click along below to watch.
Will-o’-the-Wisp opens on May 26 at IFC Center and will expand.