Contemporary World Cinema
One of the most intensely political films of the year, Aquarius is also one of the most entertaining, with a standout performance that’s easily one of the best you’ll see this season.
Focussing on a deliciously stubborn woman who refuses to acquiesce to the demands of her gentrifying landlords, it speaks to both the changing nature of Brazilian life and the way that progress sometimes bulldozes over those elements that give what can loosely be described as character.
The film should play as broad melodrama – the overly nostalgic woman, her illness, her selfish refusal to embrace the future against her heartless antagonist – yet thanks to Kleber Mendonça Filho’s delightful script, and Sônia Braga’s epic, astonishing performance the film feels as fresh and intoxicating as a beach breeze.
Given Brazil’s current political climate, highlighted by the recent Olympics and turmoil of their leadership, the film feels vital and present. Equally compelling for North American audiences are questions about our own challenges with gentrification, and it’s hard given the US election to not equate nefarious developers with certain party leaders. Still, the film isn’t merely a mirror held up to contemporary events, it’s a stark yet sweet look at the collision between nostalgia and progress.
While the finale takes the film into an almost farcical realm, there’s enough here to warmly recommend the film to any audience. With a tour-de-force performance by Braga that will leave you cheering, Aquarius is a wonder of a film.
Sunday Sept. 11, 2:45pm @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Tuesday Sept. 13, 9:00am @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Saturday Sept. 17, 3:15pm @ Isabel Bader Theatre