Part fictional drama, part documentary, part concert film – Our Beloved Month of August doesn’t so much blend disparate genres as collapse them into a uniquely evocative collage, albeit one that remains something of a detached formal exercise. The first half of Miguel Gomes’ sophomore effort (after 2003’s The Face You Deserve) purports to be a non-fiction portrait of rural Portugal shot while Gomes waits to cast an upcoming feature project. Sequences of religious ritual and everyday life are stitched together with graceful intrigue, the film flitting in and out of its various subjects’ tales – be it an accident-prone lifeguard or a fire warden – as well as performance footage of various local bands. At the midway point, however, the aforementioned fictional feature suddenly kicks into gear, starring many of the people spied in the first half, albeit now “playing” different characters. This scripted saga involves a band comprised of family members whose lives are defined by romantic tensions, incest, and tales of alien abduction, and it pushes Our Beloved Month of August into an indefinable realm where questions of reality and performance, authenticity and artifice are constantly at play. Throughout, Gomes delivers one striking image after another, from human shadows dancing across environmental structures, to young lovers superimposed over a landscape seen through binoculars, to a symbolic intro of a fox stalking a chicken coop. A playful coda, in which the director discusses mysterious non-diegetic music with his sound technician, hilariously addresses his underlying concerns. Yet as Gomes is more interested in situating one in the space between fiction and non-fiction than he is in eliciting emotional engagement, his film – a tribute to the Portuguese landscape, to music as a communicative device, and to the enigma of cinematic storytelling – ultimately proves an uneven collection of often-mesmeric moments.