Saturday, 15 October 2016

LFF 2016 REVIEW - AQUARIUS (KLEBER MENDONCA FILHO)


Real talk! Because the bullshit is real, the effects are real, and the struggle is real. Kleber Mendonca Filho and Sonia Braga are done holding back, and they together confront the literal rot seeping down from the top of Brazilian society in Aquarius. The apartment block in which Braga's character is the sole remaining resident is as the film itself is constructed - symbolic, maybe a little impractical, but a statement against the societal evils devised and perpetuated by elitist corporations. Aquarius hails the simple yet profound beauty of art, indeed striving to achieve the same in itself, and prioritizes the basic human needs of love, respect, common sense, sex, and the integrity of one's home above all else. It's a generous film, stressing the value of communal experiences of joy, and indeed of pain, and inviting its audience to share in those experiences, with elongated, intimate scenes, the film's essential energy maintained in Mendonca Filho's delightful way with dramaturgy. His more expressive details are arguably a little too overt, set as they are within a film that largely eschews excessive displays of affectation, but his grasp of character is exemplary - whether it's delineated through the direction, the writing, the cinematography, the editing. The boldness to which Mendonca Filho sporadically resorts may be an easy option for the emotional catharses he's equally inclined to resist as he is to indulge, but they have an appropriate power, given the nature of the narrative. And anyway, holding back is for wusses. This brash piece of termite art burrows its way to heavenly heights, and brings every willing viewer along with it on its joyous ascent.