Saturday, March 28, 2020

Bacurau - Movie Review

The Movie: Bacurau

The Directors: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho

The Cast: Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles, Sônia Braga, Udo Kier, Bárbara Colen

The Story: After the death of her grandmother, Teresa comes home to her matriarchal village in a near-future Brazil to find a succession of sinister events that mobilizes all of its residents.

The Review:
This movie was a very interesting surprise and not really at all what I thought it was going to be. Set in a near future reality, the story plays off of how economic inequity can lead to some pretty intense results as people with money and power can control the existence of those without. The feeling that comes across in this film is reminiscent of film makers like Kurosawa with an extra special nod to the classic westerns from Sergio Lenoe. That being said, this is not necessarily the typical underdog story as we see some interesting reveals play out as the directors move things towards the fiery finale.

The acting performances are pretty consistent across the board although no one is really given a chance to stand out unless you are a fan of Udo Kier. And who isn't, right?! His role is important to the overall story although we don't get to see him as much as I was hoping. This is probably the primary weakness of the film, there is no focus on any central characters so it's tough to feel any real emotional connection. There is no outstanding hero figure or singular villain to focus on, it's more of a this group versus that group sort of effort.

The near future element of the movie I thought was kind of strange as the only real thing that identifies it in story is a UFO looking drone that is used a few times with no real significance. Otherwise the events could have taken place today or even ten years ago. Maybe the film makers are just trying to tell us that what we see in their movie isn't happening now but it could happen some time soon.

There is a documentary called Maxima that I watched recently that tells a similar story just in a very different way. An American corporation operating in South America has been trying for many years to remove a small village population from land that they want to exploit for profit. That's kind of what's happening to the people of Bacurau just in a much more stylized yet no less dangerous way.

The Verdict:
Bacurau is an entertaining movie filled with a lot of messaging about class disparity and the resilience of people who seem to have less than their more well off and sophisticated counterparts. Is it possible to make a small village in the middle of nowhere literally disappear? I suppose there are people arrogant enough to think they can make it happen but having a plan and executing it are two very different things.

Support local theaters! View virtual screenings of Bacurau through Seattle's Northwest Film Forum and Tacoma's Grand Cinema during this time when they are not able to open their doors.

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