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On September 1st, Brazil got the chance to assistir (watch) the much-anticipated Aquarius, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s newest release. The film premiered in Cannes in May and competed for the Palme D’Or. French magazine Cahiers Du Cinema regarded it as one of the most expected movies of the year. Since it came out in the country, Aquarius drew crowds to the theaters, became a widespread success and major box-office hit, likely to be considered the director’s greatest accomplishment.
Mendonça Filho, about whom we’ve already talked in previous posts, comes from the cidade (city) of Recife and is part of a prominent new wave of moviemakers springing from the Northeastern region of Brazil over the past decade – along with other names like Gabriel Mascaro and Cláudio Assis. This is his (segundo) second feature film, following the acclaimed debut O Som Ao Redor (Neighboring Sounds), which earned Kleber international recognition.
Watch the trailer aqui (here):
Aquarius stirred up political controversy in its Cannes premier, when director, cast and crew publicly denounced the coup d’etat against brazilian democracy by holding signs before the cameras. The protest, while praised by supporters of the now ex-President Dilma Rousseff, generated negative reactions by those in favor of the impeachment. They responded by rejecting it wihtout even watching, vowing to boycott the movie and campaigning against it in social networking and online database websites.
Set in Recife – Mendonça Filho’s hometown – Aquarius narrates the story of Clara, a resilient 65-year-old widow. As a wealthy former music critic, Clara mora (lives) comfortably in an apartment building facing the praia (beach) called Aquarius, from which the movie borrows its name. Her well-being is threatened a real state company, who intends to construir (build) a sophisticated high-rise beachside condo complex, começa (begin) making proposals to buy off her place.
As tenants progressively give in, she continually declines the increasingly generous offers and soon remains as the última (last) resident. Committed to her beliefs and determined to never sair (leave) the place until her death, Clara corageously engages in war contra (against) the development company’s relentless pressure -and, by extension, her children’s, who também (also) persuade her to vender (sell).
More than pride and stubborness, Clara’s strong-willed refusal is a symbol of resistence, as we perceive she is lutando (fighting) not only for ownership, but for integrity. Aquarius has been her lar (home) for decades. It is a memory-filled place of attachment and affection, with cabinets replete of records and photographs. Without falling into mindless nostalgia, the lead character dives back into her memories, reflecting on her past and future and finding the necessary strenght to endure the continuous tension and intimidation she is facing. Clara is a flawed, but dignified character, trying to hold on to her own sense of home and identity while a big corporation hopes to tear it down.
The film is starred by screen goddess Sônia Braga, the iconic Brazilian actress who briefly had a movie carreer in the USA in the 80s’, where she got involved with stars like Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood and was even featured in a Sex and The City episode. Other great names like Maeve Jinkings, Irandhir Santos, Humberto Carrão also deliver stunning performances. Aquarius also relies on a memorable musical score to create a powerful atmosphere.
If the movie is playing in any theather near you, não perca! (don’t miss it!)
Até a próxima semana! See you next week!