Dir/scr: Sérgio Andrade. Brazil. 2012. 98mins

Jonathas Forest

A beautifully shot story of a dark journey into the heart of the Amazon, Sérgio Andrade’s impressively made but rather low key Jonathas Forest (A Floresta de Jonathas), which had its world premiere at the Rio Film Festival, is strong on atmosphere but never really reaches a satisfactory dramatic conclusion.

The performances are nicely balanced, though the real star of the film are the lush Amazon locations.

Jonathas (Muniz) is a good-natured young man who happily helps his father gather fruit that they sell at a roadside stall. His older brother Juliano (Mendes) also works at the stand, but is more interested partying with tourists, much to the annoyance of their parents.

Jonathas is planning a weekend away with his brother, and when his father refuses to give permission Jonathas climbs out of a window with his guitar and join his brother along with Amazon native Kesassere (Diaz) and Milly (Vinyarska) for a jeep journey deeper into the Amazon.

They head to a campground deep in the jungle, and amidst the sun, swimming and relaxation Jonathas finds himself entranced by both Milly and the exotic nature of the lush forest. Separated from the others he finds himself stumbling deeper and deeper into the jungle and as the time draws on he begins to hallucinate and fear for his life.

The trip into the heart of the Amazon is not only a journey for Jonathas, but it also has deeper implications for Juliano and how he chooses to live his life. The simple story – which ends suddenly and rather obviously – is told with a degree of panache and style, but while it starts well is spirals off in rather obvious ways and struggles to find a balanced conclusion.

The performances are nicely balanced, though the real star of the film are the lush Amazon locations - beautifully shot by Yure César – which add a rather poetical and elegant backdrop to a rather straightforward story.

Production companies: Rio Taruma Filmes, VT Quatro Filmes, Figa Filmes

Producers: Warly Bentes Jr., Sandro Fiorin, Sergio Andrade, Sidney Medina

Cinematography: Yure César

Editor: Fábio Baldo

Music: Ian dos Anjos, Begê Muniz

Main cast: Begê Muniz, Francisco Mendes, Viktoryia Vinyarska, Chico Diaz, Ítalo Castro