Dir: Bruno Safadi. Brazil. 2012.  73mins


The smart and provocative structure of Brazilian drama Éden goes some way in papering over its relatively lightweight plot involving sex and religion, but as a vehicle for the talented Leandra Leal – who plays a pregnant young woman who is seduced and manipulated by an evangelical preacher – it is an impressive affair.

It is to Leandra Leal’s credit that she makes the most of her character’s inner turmoil.

She picked up the Best Actress prize at the Rio Film Festival for a striking and at time moving performance, and while the film never quite delivers in terms of the shrill drama it often promises, its mix of sex and melodrama could make it of interest to other festivals.The film had its premiere at the Rio Film Festival.

The heavily pregnant Karine (Leal) is brought into the Church of Éden to try and console her, and she soon finds herself a favourite of Pastor Naldo (João Miguel) who wants her to be an ‘ambassador’ for his religious message. She goes along with his tender ministrations, until she finds herself brought in front of the young man who murdered her partner.

Director Bruno Safadi, however, has a sure tough when it comes to structuring his shots, balancing some beautifully framed scenes (for the scenes of romance) alongside more gritty urban footage as the evangelical preacher takes to the streets. Karine seems to work at a warehouse selling swimming pools, which means good use of shots of her plaintively laying down in the shell of a pool, while in a flashback there are scenes of her and her lover meeting for the first time in a karaoke bar (and singing along to Spandau Ballet’s True) before heading back for a little love-making in a hot tub.

But the artfully shot sequences can only go so far when it comes to adding lustre to a relatively flimsy storyline. So it is to Leandra Leal’s credit that she makes the most of her character’s inner turmoil.

Production company/sales: TB Producoes, Greengo Films, www.greengofilms.com

Producer: Jan Roldanus

Director: Bruno Safadi

Screenplay: Antonia Pellegrino, Bruno Safadi

Editor: Rodrigo Lima

Cinematography: Lula Carvalho

Music: Guilherme Vaz

Main cast: Leandra Leal, João Miguel, Julio Andrade, André Ramiro, Cristina Lago