Peter Jin’s Portrait of Leonore is a fantastical, semi-autobiographical journey of the filmmaker as he deals with the aftermath of his family’s dysfunction while growing up. Keying in on an admission his mother made to him when he was a child, one where she tells her only son about the abortion she had a few years prior, Peter imagines what it would be like had that older sibling, in this case a sister named Leonore, survived and been able to experience growing up alongside him.
Told through narration, animation, dramatic re-creations and re-imaginings of Peter’s life, the story of his past, had he not been alone, is as much an exploration of an imagined salvation as it is a damnation of the imaginary. While looking at his past through the perspective of Leonore, Peter is able to see how the same situations could impact someone else, and in that way his imaginary sibling suffers as much as, if not more than, he did. It’s an artistic opportunity for Peter to reconcile his own feelings, and see more objectively, allowing for some healing and, eventually, forgiveness.
Portrait of Leonore is a beautiful, poetic study of characters both real and imagined. Even if it weren’t autobiographical, and entirely a fictional tale, the sentiment and emotions inherent in the overall experience would still resonate.
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