Monday, December 28, 2020

Movie with Abe: Bacurau

Bacurau
Directed by Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho
Released March 6, 2020

People make assumptions about others based on where they come from and the kind of lives they lead. Those factors may be informative, but they’re not all that goes into what makes a person and how they interact with the world. Drawing a conclusion as a result of only circumstantial influencers is far from responsible, and it can have a detrimental effect on both parties, transforming whatever relationship might exist and erecting barriers that make communication strained and difficult. More dangerously, it risks leading to unforeseen and destructive consequences that could have been avoided with an open and less judgmental attitude.

In the near future, the small Brazilian town of Bacurau is an intimate community, one that comes together to mourn the death of Carmelita, a well-respected matriarch. The locals are concerned when a water truck arrives with leaks caused by several bullet holes, and other worrisome developments include a teacher’s inability to find Bacurau on an electronic map to show to his students. A local wanted criminal, Lunga (Silvero Pereira), contemplates a return to the town that celebrates him as a hero as a mysterious group led by Michael (Udo Kier) prepares for a subversive attack on its unsuspecting residents.

This film, which has been awarded a number of prizes citing it as the best foreign film of the year, is an unusual specimen, one that begins in a very slow manner and only gradually unfurls the various elements of its plot. It’s never clear exactly what’s going on, and much is conveyed in a subtle and ambiguous way through conversations between the people of Bacurau and the nefarious invaders who threaten their stability and safety. Its construction is unnerving, and each new revelation only adds to the feeling of dread that fills this stark, bare landscape.

This isn’t explicitly science fiction, employing minor instances of advanced technology that feels out of place in an otherwise undeveloped space lacking in much-needed resources. But there is something that feels unique about this invented town in Brazil and the disturbing events that occur within its boundaries. Those not eager to be deeply unsettled by the violent nature of its content and general premise should avoid this film because it offers no source of comfort, but anyone willing to engage with potentially upsetting material may find it intriguing and rewarding. Once its story becomes more comprehensible, it leaves plenty to be unpacked, functioning both as an interesting watch that becomes progressively more involving and a haunting metaphor about society ripe for analysis.

B

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