Loneliness coalesces into desperation in Karim Aïnouz’s new film, which begins and ends on the desert road outside a small Brazilian town where opportunity appears as unknowable as snowfall. Hermila (Hermila Guedes) comes to visit her aunt and grandmother with her young child, and after it becomes clear that her husband may have abandoned them, she embraces the affections of a former paramour while entertaining the possibility of prostitution. Hermila’s crisis isn’t milked for cheap pathos, but while she may come to her decision as calmly as the hammocks that swing beneath the silhouette of trees that dot the neighborhood, there is still sadness to the way her face sinks as she calls herself Suely for the first time and sells one of her lottery tickets to a man, declaring that the prize is no longer a bottle of whiskey but “a night in paradise.” Aïnouz is deeply but unpretentiously attuned to the rhythms of small-town living, and in the way he casually captures Hermila’s grandmother throwing a blanket over the girl, only a short time after the old woman slapped Hermila senseless upon learning of her granddaughter’s planned prostitution, he shows a sweet regard for the needs of the quotidian. The characters all have the same names as the film’s actors, a choice that is part of Aïnouz’s quaint pretense to realism. Indeed, watching a wonderful Guedes, whether it is hinting to the motorcycle-riding João about her lottery sexcapade (almost as if she were trying to come out of the closet) or trying to haggle with a man about when he should pay for her physical services, is to witness a miraculous synergy between an actress and her art. What Hermila is looking for is never clear, but as a blast of trance music evocatively guides her out of town, it is evident that she will essay her happiness completely on her own terms.
- Strand Releasing
- 90 min
- Karim Aïnouz
- Karim Ainouz, Felipe Bragança, Mauricio Zacharias
- Hermila Guedes, Maria Menezes, Zezita Matos, João Miguel, Georgina Castro, Claudio Jaborandy, Marcelia Cartaxo
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: