Carlos Zilio. PRATO, 1971, industrial ink on porcelain, ø 24cm


Comment on Claudio Assis' latest film

Claudio Assis managed, in his cinema, to transit through an aesthetic of the dirty, of the visceral and degraded Recife, to a poetic approach that now brought marginal poetry to the cinema (rat fever), painted in black and white, now paid homage to the poetry of Mayakovsky in big jet by reproducing, visually, the dialogue between the poet and the revenue inspector that is present in the immortal poem “Conversa sobre Poetry with the Income Tax”. The quality of his work is not at stake.

Em Pity he seems to risk a synthesis of his cinema in a form of mature work. The presence of Fernanda Montenegro in the cast is indicative of this. Themes such as real estate speculation, urban growth, decadent cinemas make up the geography of the film. As an example of Yellow Mango the shots begin, and at other times are repeated, in a frame above the houses. With that, he shows the spontaneity of detachment and also of the internal dialogue of the characters. Remarkable; are the scenes of poetry that spread on the screen when the boat with Dona Carminha (Fernanda Montenegro) and Sandro (Cauã Reymond) travels slowly and with huge structures that rob Recife, in this case the great Recife, of beauty.

Without letting the quality deviate from his work, Claudio Assis, however, directs a film with a risky bet on the caricature of the characters that can asphyxiate them with obviousness. And, in the most serious case, flattening important guidelines into an aesthetic void. The word is perhaps empty.

Aurélio (Mateus Nachtergaele) embodies the caricature of the aggressive businessman who uses whiskey to secretly plot his excesses in an apartment facing the sea. To make the character more complex, the director chooses to compose him in an approach of conflict and submission to the mother, which contrasts with his “active” position in sex, but which, far from making the character complex, infantilizes him as if he were a kind of childhood motivation that made him operate an attempt to buy the community that had their livelihood on the beach.

On the other hand, the character Omar (played by Irandir Santos) embodies a type of hippie-like community leader, with his obvious long hair and who keeps criticizing the development of the region by calling, over a rock on which he is smoking his joint, the ships from the Port of Suape of steel locusts. He is the only one who makes the dialogue between people in the community and the businessman. However, he abruptly realizes that his trust is broken by one of the residents who decides to sell his land. None of this is presented during the film, which, because it focuses on the figure of the community leader, who has the monopoly of speech, loses in showing in the outcome of the dialogue scenes with the entrepreneur, the complexity of variables that are present in such a type of business. Things are not as obvious as the film seems to suggest.

Finally, the young people who rebel against the oil company follow the tone of a simple discussion that contrasts sharply with the youth of Recife, for example, who occupied Estelita. Protests often sound disconnected, with naked and masked people on boards in the sea, because they do not keep a more acute reflection with a political critique of predatory urban development. In the film, there is a complete lack of articulation between the young rebels and the people in the community who are only connected by kinship, a feature of a soap opera script, between one of them and the leader of the community.

In the end, Osmar's decision to sell the land to the construction company and secure an apartment is followed by the boy with his toy, 100% virtual reality, which was given by the businessman, who, from the window of the apartment, is attached to the reality that exist. The scene loses in metaphor to gain in a certain naivety in the face of a problem that the film obviously does not have and does not even need to pretend to solve, but which should not take away its complexity either with a profusion of shallow characters tied in a no less shallow plot. .

*Erico Andrade is a professor at the Department of Philosophy at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE).


Brazil, 2019, 98 minutes
Directed by: Claudio Assis
Screenplay: Anna Francisco, Dillner Gomes, Hilton Lacerda
Cast: Fernanda Montenegrao, Cauã Reymond, Matheus Nachtergaele, Mariana Ruggiero, Irandhir Santos, Gabriel Leone


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