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Monday, July 14, 2014


Out of Brazil, a debut feature from Kelber Mendonça Filho that’s simultaneously disturbing, compelling and more than a bit perplexing, long on atmosphere/short on explanation. A multi-POV portrait of a dozen or so lives in and around a condo-plex in Recife, Brazil, with a rumble of implied threat, obliquely stated, in the air. What’s troubling all these people? Mostly well-to-do, they start affairs; slip tranquilizers to howling dogs; and make courtesy calls on a paterfamilias who owns half the neighborhood but prefers country-life to the habits of his wayward heirs. Like his nephew, a rich boy with a temper who vandalizes cars to no purpose. Delivery men enter as if from another planet, welcomed as a change of pace and for the occasional bag of pot they sell with the bottled water. But first they need to get past a series of locked doors, gates & fences, briefly opened, quickly re-locked. And now, this well-ordered community is adding a private security force that looks more like a protection racket. One safeguard too many? Filho orchestrates his multiple lines of action with an easy touch, keeping up with storylines as you might with a distant relative, so that by the time you ask about a new relationship, it may already be over. While, in the film’s most daring sequence, barely seen boys from a poor favela can be heard dropping in out of trees. To what purpose? Or is the real threat something already inside the gates? Talented as Filho is, the film’s success feels a bit thin as the DVD’s accompanying short has him playing the very same card. A warning sign on things to come?

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