BACURAU (Brazil/France 2019) ***** Top 10
Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles
If the name of one of the directors Kleber Mendonca Filho sounds familiar, the reason is that it belongs to the one who has directed two of the best known Brazilian films recently, the brilliant NEIGHBOURING SOUNDS and AQUARIUS.
Bucurau is the hit from Brazil that has been seen by more than 1 million Brazilians. The film plays like a Sergio Leone western adventure coupled with a sci-fi mystery element in which an entire village is forced to take up arms to protect itself from extinction. The film won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2019 sharing the prize with LES MISERABLES.
The welcome sign to the fictitious village of Bacurau reads: “If you go, go in peace”. The film begins with a girl, Teresa (Barbara Colen) coming to the village, riding on the water truck to attend her grandmother’s funeral.
BACURAU was filmed in the village of Barra in the municipality of Palelhas and in the rural area of the municipality of Acari, at the Sertão do Seridó region, in Rio Grande de Norte.
Something is amiss. When a political candidate, Tony Junior (Thardelly Lima) enters the village, he is greeted with hostility, accused of shutting off water the village obtains from the dam. This is the reason water has to brought by the water truck. The truck shot with holes indicate that someone higher up wishes the village to disappear. The climate gets worse.
Directors File and Dornelles build up audience anticipation very well, starting from the welcome sign to the village. Then, things get dicier. First the water truck is riddled with bullet holes from shots out of nowhere. Then the local teacher, when attempting to show Bacurau on the map to his students find that the village has disappeared from the online map. The cellphone signals then disappear. Out of the blue, two strangers from motorbikes appear. Are they intruders or just innocent tourists out to tour the country? Bacurau runs 2 hours and ten minutes, is a bit slow moving but never boring for the above reason.
The directors also pay attention to detail, like a brief camera shot of a dog scratching itself as two bikers enter the village. The flies on the food emphasize the heat, stink and the rural setting.
Sonia Braga, the sex bomb from past films like DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS and KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN appears in the supporting role of a doctor in the village. Braga is now 70 but still commands a powerful screen presence. Her character is given key lines and Braga is till a pleasure to watch. Most of the villagers are played by non-professional from a similar village in the area. Udo Kier, the German actor who is famous for play crazed madman has his role of a lifetime as an over-the-top crazed mercenary.
At one point in the film, a dialogue line goes: “You are staying here like the fag, Che Guevara.” There is absolutely no reason for that gay decretory term and it is films like this one that creates the notion in people’s minds that comments like these are ok. Still there is a queer element in the film that won it the Palm Queer award.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the partners of Kino Lorber, the film distributors are setting up virtual theatres in order for audiences to view the film
There are 2 Toronto theatres presently on this initiative: Details below: ($12 for a 5-day pass)