A fábrica de nada
The Nothing Factory

“‘The specter of its own end haunts Europe,’ we are told, adding that this isn’t a normal end but ‘an endless ending.’ It’s a good point, given that nine years on from 2008, Portugal apparently still hasn’t crawled out of the massive hole caused by the crisis and the imposed austerity measures that followed. These short interludes place the happenings in a much larger socioeconomic and political context, while real-life interviews with the workers – the cast of non-professional actors are/were factory employees in real life – are also sprinkled throughout, adding further authenticity on a more intimate scale.”

Boijd van Hoeij1


Hovering on the sidelines is a mysterious, wild-haired man who expresses an interest in the factory early on. He seems at once a social theorist, commenting in voice-over on the present cracks in the capitalist system, and an activist affiliated to a pan-European group of left-wing thinkers, whose lengthy dinner-table debate offers a somewhat intractable longueur at around the two-hour mark. In fact, he’s played by Italian film-maker Daniele Incalcaterra, whose own work includes the documentary FaSinPat [Fabrica Sin Patrón/Factory Without a Boss] – presumably covering exactly the same theme as Pinho’s film. Incalcaterra’s presence as surrogate director introduces a Brechtian dimension into a film that’s ostensibly in a familiar realist mould – its energetic, natural ensemble acting style closer to the sprawling tableau of Abdellatif Kechiche’s Couscous than to Loach or the Dardennes.

Jonathan Romney2