Friday, February 2, 2018

Sundance with Abe: Rust

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fifth time. I’m seeing as many movies as I can each day and will post reviews of each as I can.

Directed by Aly Muritiba
World Cinema Dramatic Competition

Social media has become so prevalent these days that it’s barely possible for anyone of any age to make it through a conversation without being distracted by things their friends – or people they don’t even know – are posting about hundreds of miles away that are truly of little importance. Many films at Sundance this year and in past years place special emphasis on the destructive psychological effects of being addicted to social media and letting it define status and happiness, and it’s interesting to see this depressing take from Brazil that could easily have come from any country around the world.

This film is presented in two parts, each focusing on a different character. In the first, Tati (Tifanny Dopke) is a relatively popular high school girl who has just been cheated on by her boyfriend. As she begins a romance with Renet (Giovanni de Lorenzi), she loses her phone and is devastated to discover that a racy video that she made with her ex – and didn’t delete – has been uploaded to the Internet for all to see. In the second segment, Renet grapples with the exposure of this video while dealing with the news that his mother (Clarissa Kiste), recently separated from his father (Enrique Diaz), who teaches at his school, is pregnant with another man’s baby.

“Rust” feels like a cautionary tale for the way in which social media can distract for anything and everything else in life, and how it has come to shape each new generation. One memorable scene finds Renet refusing to answer Tati’s chat messages, a moderately intimate form of communication in a digital age where, waiting for a response, both could easily retreat to browsing and hitting “like” on any number of brainless stories and shares. While the culture in Brazil is somewhat different, so much of this story could be transplanted with few modifications to the United States and be just as effective.

As is likely to be the case with any film split into multiple parts, one is clearly stronger than the other. Tati’s story, and the way in which she transforms once she sees everyone pointing at her at school and sneering behind her back, is much more compelling, as is Dopke’s performance. There is something to the focus on Renet as well, but its direction is less obvious and emphatic. The first of the half might be worthwhile required viewing for a mature audience as a cautionary tale, but the whole product isn’t nearly as resounding.


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