Dir: Julio Bressane. Brazil. 2003. 90mins
There is precious little love, even less sensuality and no passion at all in this experimental picture which marks Julio Bressane's return to the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes after more than 30 years. A little film on a vast subject, to quote the director himself, this modest attempt to discuss eroticism and other matters between one man and two women, sharing a dreary flat in Rio de Janeiro for a weekend, may find eventual interest in specialised positions, particularly in festivals looking for another dimension to add to their programmes, but nothing much outside this realm.
Bressane's selection of the three partners in this adventure is not particularly striking, neither physically, nor in any other respect. Neither their acting nor their presence leaves an indelible impression. The camera follows them at length as they proceed through the streets of Rio to the flat where they are supposed to convene, and once there, they go on mumbling silently for a few more minutes, before the first line of dialogue emerges, some 15 minutes into the film. Though dialogue may not be the accurate way to put it, they launch, each one of them separately, into long monologues, delivered in a bland tone of voice, as the three of them start consuming alcohol, taking pills, smoking joints and sniffing an unidentified substance. Then they gradually proceed to disrobe, another garment being removed every time there is an exterior shot taken outside the flat. The poses they strike in a series of tableaux vivants are not necessarily related to the texts they go on delivering, alternating at times with popular Brazilian songs, excerpts from movie soundtracks and radio shows.
The film moves back and forth between colour and black-and-white, and as the three undress, they drift into a number of sequences which in different circumstances might have been considered scandalous. One of them shows at length a close up of the female sex a la Courbet (Bruno Dumont did it in a far more striking fashion in L'Humanite), another shows at length that same female organ being meticulously shaven, a third documents a woman using a banana to masturbate, again in close up. Managing to drain all shock value out of these scenes must be an achievement in its own right. The film concludes with images of crowds in the street and Edith Piaf's Hymne A L'amour forcefully delivered in Portuguese on the soundtrack.
This type of film-making was indeed fashionable some 30-odd years ago and the Directors' Fortnight always had a few entries of this kind every year. Since then, the nature of cinema has changed to a great extent, the profile of the Cannes' sidebar is no longer the same but it seems that at least Bressane is sticking to his guns. How far those guns can shoot remains to be seen.
Prod co: Grupo Novo de Cinema e TV
Prod/int'l sales: Tarcisio Vidigal
Scr: Bressane, Rosa Dias
Cinematography: Walter Carvalho
Ed: Virginia Flores
Prod des: Moa Batsow
Music: Guilherme Vaz
Sound: Juarez Dagoberto
Main cast: Bel Garcia, Josi Antello, Fernando Eiras