If you’re having emotional problems, dialing up Dr. Phil or some late night pseudo psychologist on the radio isn’t really a solution. But if listening or joining in provides comfort, what’s the harm? None at all, especially if the Lone Wolf is taking your call. So empathetic and sincere in his approach, the radio personality of Filipe Melo’s creation seems like he could talk down a brigade of depressed housewives or forlorn teenagers. Unfortunately, the title character in The Lone Wolf, like so many others, might just be too good to be true, and following these 23 minutes of doubt, stretches the very fabric that holds us together as a society.
Nonetheless, the Wolf or Vitor Lobo (Adriano Luz) enters a darkened studio, and his back turned to the camera, we feel the trudge of another work day. The radio promos playing prior to his mic going hot, and the monotony kicks into an even lower gear.
In keeping, the topic tonight is emotions, and the agenda seems painfully rote. Sorry, the Wolf has you exactly where he wants you, and engaging with the audience, Luz’s soothing baritone gives complete credibility to the less than groundbreaking subject matter.
Maria (Ana Cloe) agrees as the first caller. Almost like a comedy team attuned to each other’s beat, Cloe’s sedate delve into her character is like a mirror to Lobo’s caring pleasantry and reflects the good nature as though the radio host cultivated the kindness himself. The attentive back and forth actually makes you want to smile at the nearest person and agree with her lament that there isn’t enough affection in the world.
The cinematographic framing by Vasco Viana reinforces the shared sentimentality. The studio is almost completely dark and his illuminated image doubles as a lighthouse in a storm. The camera also circling Lobo, the effect strongly suggests that this well meaning man could help circumnavigate whatever comes your way.
In fact, Vitor almost seems to sway, and like he’s totally in sync with a turbulent sea, the Wolf takes professional and personal pride. So all is good and from the world’s perspective, no matter what side Lobo is viewed from, the image reassures.
But the night is still young. “Good evening,” a male caller (António Fonseca) begins. A signal that things may possibly go awry according to the expected opening.
“We say, good morning,” insists the radio host. He lets it pass, though, and Lobo is ready to ensue with the Kumbaya.
Asking for the caller to ID himself, the caller is pretty abrupt again. “Raul”, his response is foreboding, and we know something is afoot.
Fonseca does then dial it down, and they get into a cordial back and forth about a shared past that Vitor does not remember. His memory jarred, the midnight good cheer seems to regain its footing and the rotating camera says things are still on point.
The old friends briefly reminisce about the family vacations taken together, and our faith is restored. Not for long, Fonseca shifts seamlessly gears, and exploding with rage, he drops the bomb.
Doubling down, the camera stops spinning and the stationary close up now has the whole world fixing its glare on Lobo. They suddenly see him from an angle they didn’t think was possible.
Still, the account would not necessarily hold up in a court of law and maybe even falls short in the court of common sense. Nonetheless, the resulting emotional upheaval sides with Raul, and we are left to render a judgment by reading Lobos’s reaction.
The actor’s pained face, strained voice and overall distress does an amazing job of making the case that the director seeks. The same goes for an encompassing soundtrack that doesn’t let us look away, and now when the camera begins to rotate again, Lobo no longer seems in control of the propulsion.
All that’s left is for Lobo to reapply the mask he’s worn his whole life, and Luz not missing a beat, the familiar facade tells us there’s one more good thing we shouldn’t have taken for granted.