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VENICE 2018 Giornate degli Autori

Review: Domingo

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- VENICE 2018: Fellipe Barbosa and Clara Linhart co-direct a choral and ironic portrait of a Brazilian family on the day of President Lula's election, in competition at the Giornate

Review: Domingo
Camila Morgado and Ismael Caneppele in Domingo

A choral portrait that puts the spotlight on an important moment in Brazil's history at a lively family gathering. Domingo [+see also:
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, the new film by Brazilian director duo Fellipe Barbosa (awarded at Cannes for Gabriel and the Mountain [+see also:
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) and Clara Linhart (her first fiction feature film) was presented at the 15th Giornate degli Autori at Venice, and takes place on a Saturday. A Saturday that almost feels like a Sunday, filled with idleness, waiting and suspense: the day that Lula is elected president of Brazil and the old oligarchy starts to worry that its wealth and privileges might go up in flames.

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The most worried of them all is Laura (Itala Nandi), the family's snobbish and haughty matriarch. It’s the 1 January 2003 and this extended family of landowners gathers in an old and decaying country house – lived in by one of Laura's children, Nestor (Augusto Madeira) and his crazy second wife Bete (Camila Morgado) – to toast the New Year and Valentina's beloved grandson’s 15th birthday (Manu Morelli). After Laura arrives at the house with her other son Miguel (Ismael Caneppele), where Eliana awaits them (Martha Nowill) – nine month's pregnant and on the verge of a nervous breakdown – with her husband Eduardo (Michael Wahrmann), in addition to Laura's many grandchildren, the next 90 minutes sees the audience dragged into a whirlwind of chatter, toasts, quarrels, laughter and even a lot of sex (more than you might expect at a family gathering), between the garden hosting the barbecue, the kitchen where the housemaid Ines (Silvana Silvia) is forced to continually rejectteenage advancestowards her beautiful daughterRita (Maria Victoria Valencia) and rooms where people hide to do coke, watch hard-core movies and dress up unwitting children as women.

The film consists of several sequence shots: sometimes the camera remains fixed, watching the action take place (the garden scenes, in particular), while at other times it follows the characters' movements around the house – at a fair pace. There's not a moment’s rest to pause or get bored, given the dynamics between the various characters and all the passion, betrayal, jealousy, rivalry, political differences and class clashes that come with it, as well as a blackout, contractions and various accidents. In the background, the TV and radio blare out the words of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the metalworker-turned-president: his inauguration speech, working class projects for change and revenge. Some people celebrate his election, while others simply don't want to know. Some people see a new future opening up before them and some feel as though they’re witnessing the end of everything.

The screenplay was written back in 2005 (by Lucas Paraizo, previously a co-author of Gabriel and the Mountain) and bringing this story to the screen after so many years, with the benefit of hindsight, is very effective, given that a lot of the concerns voiced at the time proved to be inconsequential (the wealthy classes weren’t harmed) and the judicial events that later involved Lula, indicted for corruption. A film that knows how to sieze the spirit of a transitionary moment with great irony, and which portrays social disparity and classism with great cynicism – differences that are apparently already well-rooted in the younger generations. 

Domingo is a Franco-Brazilian production by Damned Films and Gamarosa Filmes, in co-production with ART France Cinéma, Globo Filmes and Canal Brasil. International sales are being handled by Films Boutique.

(Translated from Italian)

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