FILM REVIEWS

Aquarius

ADD TO MY FAVORITES
8/10 NR 02 hr 22 min

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By Richard Von Busack November 3, 2016

Clara, a 65 year old widow and retired music critic, was born into a wealthy and traditional family in Recife, Brazil. She is the last resident of the Aquarius, an original two-story building, built in the 1940s, in the upper-class, seaside Boa Viagem Avenue, Recife. All the neighboring apartments have already been acquired by a company which has other plans for that plot. Clara has... Read More

By Reno November 8, 2017

**Home is where all the memories preserved.**

I have to start the review by mentioning the recent year Russian film 'Durak', also known as 'The Fool' in English. In the same year, another similar themed Russian film, 'Leviathan' got nominated for the Oscars. What those both films highlighted were not just the corruptions, but the threats the common people face. Raising voice for good against evil is still a distant for such potential country. Here comes the Brazilian version. This is not on the same level. I meant the intensity of the event, how all folds. Nevertheless, the same core issue in a different continent.

This film met with several controversies. One of them omitted it from the Oscars race. But the film was received well from all the quarters. I did not find any issue. I thought it became unfortunate victim, especially, could be because of the developers and their connection with the corrupt powerful men. It's neither a masterpiece. I just consider it a good film. A message film. But not for everyone. Particularly, it is good for grownups viewing for the reason I'll going mention later.

The story of the 65 year old Clara. Her life has been successful being a music critic. Now a widow, and all her children settled down. It opened on her birthday where all the friends and family gathered to celebrate the occasion. Living alone in a small and beautiful beach view apartment. But the thing is she's the last one who still in that old building. Everyone had left it when the developers decided to demolish it and build a modern one. She's fighting to save the heritage. All her memories lie in there. But the developers have a different plan to force her out, and that's the remaining film to unfold how and other following developments.

> ❝So when you like it, it's 'vintage'. If you don't like it, it's 'old'. Right?❞

The opening scene was a slight offbeat. Because right away it does not reveal who is the person of the film. Besides, some of the odd scenes in the middle would raise some eyebrows. Those were not actually the full fledged scenes, but glimpses that goes back to like the 70s or something. The idea of those parts were not properly understandable, but I think it is about missing those good times. The lone fighter concept was inspiring. At one point, when everybody around her thought that she's making an unnecessary scene out of it, she was firm on her decision and did what has to be done.

This was one of those films I did not like it on the spot. But slowly captivated. Once it's focus was fixed on one particular character, the rest of the tale set forward on what it wanted to tell us. As I understood it, it was not exactly about corruption, except a part of it was. It was the fight for ones right. A fight to save the past. On the other hand, the people from her opposite are ready to take extreme steps to defeat her. That's where it gets into the controversy. The controversy of those stupid tricks used to achieve the goal. This kind of a film coming from Brasil is really wonderful to educate poor knowledge people who easily become victims in a similar fashion.

It was a French-Brasil collaboration film. I'm reviewing it after a couple of days of my watch. Because I wanted to think about it for a while, scene by scene. The more I recall, the more I'm starting to like it. So I advise same to you as well that don't come to any conclusion just after you have watched. Because it could not be what you have heard about it. My only issue was the runtime. The 150 minutes were a too long. But manageable if you watch regularly, such slow films.

Well written, directed and acted. Even the location was ideal. But they could have avoided the those sex scenes which I earlier labelled them as odd scenes. There were too many, even camera pans out from somewhere far away in the bush. Kind of unrelated. I am not against such an idea, as human daily life filled with those. But when the theme was seriously pivoting on a serious issue, these came as distraction. Why I'm pointing out that strongly is that a fine film like this should be for all ages, even for teenagers. It missed that opportunity. Otherwise and still a nice drama film to recommend the adults.

_7/10_

By Richard von Busack November 3, 2016

In the 1980s, Sonia Braga was an idol of Brazilian film. Her coolness, her mahogany-colored body and her magnificent black tresses still stir the memory of longtime filmgoers. Now 65, she still has the hair, as Aquarius demonstrates; Braga winds it, unfurls it, tosses it for the camera. Aquarius is a tribute to Braga. It's a Brazilian vacation with a civics lesson on the side.

Braga plays the widowed Clara. Once a noted rock critic, she is now an idler, puttering around her art deco oceanside apartment in the city of Recife and swimming in the South Atlantic. But her apartment is up for bulldozing. Over the significant length of Aquarius, Clara puts up a struggle, turning down the payoffs (the developers offer her $635,000). She endures the dirty tricks used to pressure her out of her otherwise vacant building.

In Brazil, Aquarius is seen as a protest against the kleptocracy that pushed out President Dilma Rousseff. But what is Aquarius over here? A little exasperating, frankly. Everyone calls Clara "Dona"—she's a great lady, a survivor of breast cancer, and in passing we learn that her family owns five apartment buildings. But she wants her home for sentimental reasons.

Laid-back director Kleber Mendonca Filho is a serious nostalgist. We mark the distance between the past and the present with a monologue about a prized John Lennon LP. Aquarius begins in the apartment, with the 70th birthday party of Clara's aunt Lucia in 1980; that means that Lucia (Thalia Perez), whose memory sparkles with hardcore flashbacks of the passions of her youth, is almost as old as the 20th century.

But what is Clara doing with her time in 2016? She has a maid (Zoraide Coleto) whom she scolds and kisses. Clara pushes around her real family. She has a lifeguard at the beach who watches out for her—it seems to be his only job. She rings up for paid sex from a gigolo, or goes out with a group of friends who gossip about men. There's no reason that a person in their 60s shouldn't take it easy—shouldn't just live—but the question is how a director will give some energy to those sweet last days. Aquarius misses the salt and vividness of middle-aged female life we saw in the Chilean film Gloria—where it was ABBA, not Queen, that got the ceaseless needle drops.

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