See this review on The Fan Carpet.
In cinemas February 27th!
When Donato (Wagner Moura), a lifeguard at the beautiful but treacherous Futuro Beach, dives into the sea to save two German vacationing bikers, his life is changed dramatically. While he manages to rescue Konrad (Clemens Schick), Konrad’s partner is lost to the darkness. A bond quickly grows between the two surviving men and as they cling to each other for support, they develop a relationship which prompts Donato to leave everything behind and follow Konrad to Berlin.
The beginning of the film sucked me in immediately. From the opening shot of two bikers riding freely through a landscape peppered only by wind turbines, we are cut suddenly into the full blown panic of drowning as the men thrash around and fight for breath. This scene is spectacularly made. With the camera seemingly in the sea with the men, you are filled with anxiety as if you, the audience, are also being immersed in the water, struggling to the surface only to be dragged under again. It’s confusing. You’re never really sure who is where or what is happening. I found myself holding my breath, willing the camera to rise above the water so that I may grasp a respite from the fear. When the camera finally focuses on Donato, the relief is quickly dashed as you realise that one of them has been lost.
With such a strong opening I had high hopes for the film. The two leading actors are fantastic. I also have to give a special mention to Jesuita Barbosa who appears as the 18 year old version of Donato’s younger brother, Ayrton. He gives a wonderfully nuanced performance of a young boy, abandoned by his brother and left to care for his mother, ill equipped and alone. Angry and violent in his outward reactions there is always a sense of pain, fear and helplessness behind his eyes. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for him in the future.
Unfortunately, for me, the film did not live up to its potential. The themes were excellent, love, family, need, courage and fear. Realistic characters that love unconditionally and make mistakes. Men who are both brave and cowardly at the same time. But ultimately it feels more like an idea of a great film than an actual finished product. Many scenes seemed to me to be reminiscent of the sort of explorative improvisation exercises you do when rehearsing a new play. Although a great tool for getting actors into their role, it does not add to the audiences understanding of the characters or move the story forward.
When studying creative writing, you are taught that every good story has a strong arc. There is a rise and fall, perhaps multiple times, ending with some level of conclusion. Whether that be a conclusion that leaves you open and gagging to find out what happens after the words have dried up and the screen has gone black, or one that wraps all the ends up with a neat little bow, is completely up to the creative in question. Sadly, this film falls short of these devices. Every time the story begins to ascend it feels as though it is pulled back to a sort of mundane level that keeps the film at a plateau. The final scenes are open ended but fill you with no great hunger for more.
Having said all this, I would be tempted to watch more from director Karim Aïnouz as I genuinely feel he has potential. It just needs to be siphoned into a focused entity.
Review by Melanie Crossey.
See this review on The Fan Carpet.
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