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Brazilian baroque. The young son that ran from his dominant family, descends into decadence and then returns to the nest. With melodramatic themes of tyrannical fathers, incest, fierce family conflicts and an overheated and intense visual style to match. Written by
'Stunning' is not an exaggerated word to describe this film. The images are haunting, and I saw it on the small screen at home. I can only imagine what it must have looked like in a theatre.
Director Luiz Fernando Carvalho is masterful in meticulously capturing the poetic word rhythms of novelist Raduan Nassar, who wrote this metaphysical, philosophical work. The largely verbatim prose-poetry (direct from Nasar's book), spoken improvisationally by the actors, is psychologically multi-layered. It is all brilliantly complemented by Walter Cavalho's multi-award-winning cinematography. Cavalho's disturbing and often sumptuous images linger long after the screen has turned dark. One is reminded of Sven Nykvist's haunting style of 'still-life-photography' in films, particularly those made with Ingmar Bergman.
Lavoura Carcaica is almost three hours long, and (isn't this always the way with great films?) it requires an almost immediate re-viewing. One just cannot absorb the language and imagery in one sitting.
The ensemble acting is first-rate. Sultan Mello is the tortured son in temporary self-imposed exile from his family, who yearns (shamefully) for the love and sensual heat of his sister Ana's body; Simone Spoladore is the innocent, sweet-faced Ana, who expresses her desire for love by dancing (the images are more erotic than 99% of the soft-core sex you see in mainstream movies these days); Juliana Carneiro da Cunha is the loving, long-suffering mother who is an exemplar of maternity, a woman who sacrifices everything to her children, and particularly her 'pet,' Andre (Mello); and Raul Cortez is simply astonishing to watch as the austere, evangelistic, hypocritical father who rages about the primacy of familial love but doesn't really understand its true meaning when it comes to his own children.
This is a film that well deserved its many nominations and awards. It is deeply challenging and demanding, and it almost certainly would never have been made in Hollywood.
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