Bacurau (2019)

Bacurau
Director: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho
Writer: Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles
Cast: Bárbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Thardelly Lima, Rubens Santos, Wilson Rabelo, Carlos Francisco, Luciana Souza, Karine Teles, Antonio Saboia, Sônia Braga, Udo Kier
Seen on: 3.7.2020

Plot:
In the very near future, Teresa (Bárbara Colen) returns home to the small town Bacurau in the middle of nowhere because her grandmother, the family matriarch passed away. But when she gets there, she realizes that Bacurau is at the heart of a series of strange events – and the town and its inhabitants are in danger. But they are neither willing to go down without a fight, nor are they helpless.

Bacurau is a thoroughly entertaining film with strong politics that was simply a joy to watch. As it takes you from twist to turn, it’s best to just go with the flow and you will have one hell of a time.

The film poster showing the main characters drawn in watercolor style.

Bacurau was such a pleasant SciFi film because it had so many things that are so often missing in other futuristic work: Plenty people of color and queer people to start with, but also an understanding that technology has a way of getting to poorer areas as well and that even if people don’t have it themselves (maybe don’t even want to have it), they know it. The film also hits the right notes of “we have some leeway because it’s set in the future, but we can’t push it too far because it’s only a couple of years. It’s a pity that some of the world-building remained unsubtitled for people who don’t speak Portuguese – like the mention of public executions in Sao Paulo.

Bacurau is peopled with interesting characters that I enjoyed watching (and cheering along with), but the people from outside of Bacurau are also intriguing to watch (not so much cheering along there, though). Given that it’s a pretty big cast of characters, it’s quite a feat of the film that it makes you care so quickly for them.

Teresa (Bárbara Colen) leading a funeral procession.

My favorite part of the film, though, was the emotional tone it hits: there are some very gruesome scenes that hit very hard, but it’s always counterbalanced with a great sense of humor. So, the threat Bacurau is under is very real, but at the same time it doesn’t get overwhelming and depressing, and it’s still possible to delight in the resulting mayhem.

And there is a lot of delight there – in the political stance the film takes, in the gore, in the characters. I had a fantastic time with it.

Michael (Udo Kier) tasting Dominga's (Sonia Braga) stew.

Summarizing: Great.

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