O Animal Cordial [Friendly Beast] (2017)

O Animal Cordial
Director: Gabriela Amaral
Writer: Gabriela Amaral, Luana Demange
Cast: Murilo Benício, Luciana Paes, Irandhir Santos, Camila Morgado, Jiddu Pinheiro, Ernani Moraes, Humberto Carrão, Ariclenes Barroso, Eduardo Gomes, Thais Aguiar, Diego Avelino
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2018

Things are slow in Inácio’s (Murilo Benício) restaurant, meaning that there is more room for his temper to flare up – as it does often, especially with his cook Djair (Irandhir Santos), but also with customer. The waitress Sara (Luciana Paes) tries to do right by them all, but especially Inácio whom she feels drawn to. But everybody’s night takes a turn for the worse when armed robbers storm the restaurant and rack up the tension.

O Animal Cordial started off pretty nicely, but then didn’t manage to retain the tension necessary to keep me invested in the film and the characters.

The film poster showing a man looking in a broken mirror.

Many years ago, I was in Brazil for a year and that shaped my enjoyment of this film in two ways. While I was there, Benício was the biggest star of the biggest telenovela at the time. So it was kind of fun for me to see him again – in a very different role and setting. My experience in Brazil was also helpful for watching this film because it means I understand Portuguese – and the subtitles here were unfortunately pretty bad.

Putting those two things aside, the film has a strong start: the restaurant and the team working there and the customers are painted with quick strokes that give us a very clear picture of them rather quickly. And when the robbing starts, I was still very much into the film. But this isn’t simply a story about a restaurant getting robbed – and I have to say that this is rather unfortunate in this case, because I didn’t care for the actual story, the background.

Murilo Benício and Luciana Paes in the film.

I also didn’t care very much for the characters, with the exception of Djair. Inácio and Sara are completely unsympathetic, the former from the very start and the latter losing points with every minute. The two of them could have been a couple I love to hate, but really, they were just a couple I just couldn’t stand. I have to say, though, that the sex scene is a masterpiece of what-the-fuckery. It is unironically astounding.

Since the film felt pretty long and we were nearing the end of the festival, it will probably come to no-one’s surprise that I fell asleep for the last 15 minutes or so. I don’t regret not seeing the end, though I can imagine that if I did stumble upon the film again, I’d give it another go. It was good enough for a second chance, but not good enough that I will go looking for it.

Irandhir Santos and Humberto Carrão in the film.

Summarizing: Okay.

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