Flores Raras [Reaching for the Moon] (2013)

Flores Raras [literally: Rare Flowers]
Director: Bruno Barreto
Writer: Matthew Chapman, Julie Sayres
Based on: Carmen Lucia de Oliveira’s book Flores Raras e Banalíssimas [Rare and Commonplace Flowers]
Cast: Miranda Otto, Glória Pires, Tracy Middendorf, Marcello Airoldi, Lola Kirke, Tânia Costa, Marianna Mac Niven, Marcio Ehrlich, Treat Williams
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 13.6.2015

Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) isn’t exactly an easy person, but she is a successful poet. When she receives a travel scholarship she sets out to Latin America. In Brazil, she plans to visit her friend Mary (Tracy Middendorf) there, who lives with the famous archtiect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires) in a remote location where Lota can fulfill her house dreams and nobody cares about two women in a relationship. Elizabeth and Lota immediately hate each other. But when Elizabeth is forced to stay longer than expected, the two of them grow closer – and Elizabeth’s planned two weeks in Brazil become more and more time.

Flores Rares was good, but not great. Still, even only a good film about two culturally important, complex women is absolutely exceptional and very worth seeing.


I didn’t know much about any of the women in the film before seeing it. I knew that Elizabeth Bishop was a writer, but hadn’t read anything by her and I had never even heard of Macedo Soares. So as a primer I thought that Flores Raras was really interesting. In particular it made me want to read more of Bishop’s poetry. They featured One Art a lot and it is a beautiful poem. It starts like this:

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

But we also got an understanding for or an introduction to Macedo Soares’ work, both on her private property where she built several very different houses and all extremely cool, and her work on a public park in Rio that seems to be rather special as well.

flores-raras1And that is one of the main things I loved about the film: not only did we get complex women in complicated relationships, we also got to see them as hardworking professionals with their own struggles, but also successes there.

Amidst all that drama, we even got a sort of quiet sense of humor that softened the film a bit – and since it does tackle some big things, that was hugely appreciated. Also appreciated, of course, was the acting, from all three leading ladies, although Miranda Otto had probably the flashiest and certainly the most central role, drawing focus on her.

Unfortunately the film does have lengths and sometimes it loses its step a little bit. But that certainly doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth watching.

flores-raras2Summarizing: I liked it.

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