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Aquarius (film)

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Directed by  Kleber Mendonça Filho
Starring  Sônia Braga
Initial release  1 September 2016 (Brazil)
Language  Portuguese
7.8/10 IMDb


Written by  Kleber Mendonça Filho
Edited by  Eduardo Serrano
Director  Kleber Mendonça Filho
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Produced by  Saïd Ben Saïd Emilie Lesclaux Michel Merkt
Cinematography  Pedro Sotero Fabricio Tadeu
Awards  Fénix Film Award for Best Direction, Fénix Film Award for Best Actress
Nominations  Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film
Cast  Sônia Braga, Maeve Jinkings, Humberto Carrão, Irandhir Santos, Barbara Colen
Similar  Sônia Braga movies, Dramas
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Aquarius is a 2016 Brazilian–French drama film directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and starring Sonia Braga as Clara, the last resident of Aquarius building, who refuses to sell her apartment to a construction company that intends to replace it with a new edifice. It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

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The film generated uproar in Brazil due to its political connotations, especially because it was released at the apex of the country's political crisis. The film's cast and crew actively positioned itself against what they considered to be a coup d'état in Brazil, showing protest signs at Cannes.

A number of controversies has been raised over the film, including its nonselection as the country's entry to the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards by the Ministry of Culture’s committee, which has been seen as a supposed act of retaliation by Brazil's new government.

Cannes 2016 aquarius film sensuel et musical


Plot

Clara (Sônia Braga) is a retired music writer who lives at the Aquarius apartment building in Recife. She refuses to accept a buy-out from developers who wish to reclaim her apartment in order to replace the old building with a large edifice. Even though every one has moved out she holds on to it for sentimental reasons. The developers, especially the proprietor's grandson and American educated designer Diego (Humberto Carrão), try to disturb Clara through renting the vacant apartments near her's for orgies, parties and vandals. Clara, to stop this harassment, digs up dirt on the developers through her contacts. In an open argument, she berates Diego that education without decency amounts to nothing. For this Diego installs termite nests inside empty apartments to evict Clara legally. Clara finds dirty deeds of the developers and threatens them and challenges them; as a cancer survivor, she is ready to face any action.

Cast

  • Sônia Braga as Dona Clara.
  • Humberto Carrão as Diego, the construction company representative.
  • Irandhir Santos as Roberval, a lifeguard.
  • Maeve Jinkings as Ana Paula, Clara's daughter.
  • Pedro Queiroz as Tomás, Clara's nephew.
  • Julia Bernat as Julia, Tomás's girlfriend.
  • Bárbara Colen as younger Clara.
  • Zoraide Coleto as Ladjane, Clara's housekeeper.
  • Critical reception

    Aquarius currently holds a 97% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 61 reviews, with an average score of 8.5/10. On Metacritic, the film holds a 'Universal Acclaim' rating of 87, based on 37 reviews.

    Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian awarded the film 4 stars out of five and called it "beautifully observed and surprising", "a richly detailed character study, immersing the audience in the life and mind of its imperious main character, Clara, who is addressed as 'Dona Clara', commandingly played by Sônia Braga", yet criticizing the film's ending. Jay Weissberg, in Variety, compared the film to Mendonça Filho's previous project, Neighboring Sounds, calling it "a more subtle film but no less mature, a calmer film but no less angry", and strongly complemented Sonia Braga's acting and Mendonça Filho's directing skills.

    In Brazil, the film has engendered both standing ovations in cinema room and calls for boycotts. Major newspapers Folha de S. Paulo and O Estado de S. Paulo both lauded the film, with the first declaring that Mendonça Filho possesses an absurd mastery of cinema, praising his camera works and use of sound and music. The newspaper also praised the film for its bravery in discussing Brazilian social issues. O Estado de S. Paulo declared that the film was brilliant, a commendation to resistance and "very pleasent to watch", while commenting on its submersion on political discussions.

    Controversies

    Aquarius has generated widespread controversies in Brazil and abroad. The film's political tone and its time of release have prompeted several different manifestation, both of support and of criticism.

    Protest at Cannes

    During the first exhibition of Aquarius at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the film's cast showed protest signs written in Portuguese, English and French criticising Brazil's political turmoil of the time. The signs read messages such as "Brazil is not a democracy anymore", "Sauvez la démocratie brésilienne" ("Save Brazilian democracy"), and "Dilma, vamos resistir com você" ("Dilma, we will resist with you"). Immediate internet response followed, with supporters of Dilma’s impeachment suggesting boycotting the film. Among these, the right-wing columnist Reinaldo Azevedo wrote that "it is the duty of people of good will to boycott this film". Aquarius distributing company then used this sentence in the film's promotional poster, along three other positive quotes, what has been understood as an act of subversion.

    Cinema theater manifestations

    Aquarius was released in Brazil at the Festival de Gramado, when it provoked standing ovations and shouts of "Temer Out", a constant scream of protest in Brazil of those who criticize President Temer's polemical rise to power. After this, similar manifestations became common in Brazil at venues that exhibited the film. Those manifestations were commonly observed during the film's ending credits, with critics of Temer's regime shouting command words that suggest the president took over the country by the means of a "coup".

    Film rating

    Initially, the Ministry of Justice of Brazil gave Aquarius an 18 years old rating, alluding to sexual content and scenes of drug use. However, the criteria used to validate the rating has been discredited on the grounds that Brazil was the only country in where Aquarius had or was going to distributed to give the film such a high rating and that other more graphic films in Brazil had received less restrictive ratings. Protest ensued and, at the day of the film's premiere, the Ministry reduced the rating to 16 years old.

    References

    Aquarius (film) Wikipedia


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