Blu-ray: Aquarius (2016)
Sônia Braga is a tour de force as the central character Clara, the last resident of Aquarius Apartments in Recife Brazil. Her stubborn refusal to sell up and move out brings her into conflict with the planners and developers who want her out of her very desirable beach front property.
A running time of over 2.5 hours gives Director Kleber Mendonça Filho time to give a detailed account of the life of its main character Dona Clara. Clara is a retired music critic of some repute and along with her Housekeeper Lady Jane is the sole occupant at the Aquarius apartments building. The audience learns through an initial flashback sequence that the apartment had been the family home for many years and she had already faced a life threatening illness. Now three decades later and after suffering another personal tragedy she refuses to accept a buy-out from developers despite pressures from family, former neighbours and Diego, the construction company representative (Humberto Carrão).
Diego, the charming face of the redevelopers can barely hide his frustrations through his crooked smile. He considers himself and intellectual superior to Clara but is reduced into using underhand methods in order to get her to sell and move out: renting the vacant apartments near hers for orgies, parties and vandals. The psychological warfare just forces Clara, to dig in and dig up dirt on the developers in order to stop this harassment.
Aquarius is very much Sônia Braga’s movie, her portrayal of Clara the intelligent middle class liberal matriarch is believable. She is dogmatic in her refusal to leave the premises which frustrates the audience along with the cast at times. In contrast her sentimentality regarding her apartment and the memories it holds is touching and her love for her family and friends invites the viewer in close wanting to be involved in parties and nights out samba dancing. My only problem with the film was despite the relatively long running time, I found the final confrontation rushed and a little unconvincing. I wanted more of her and her friends and family.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p)
- Original 5.1 audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles
- Through an Open Window – a brand-new interview with director Kleber Mendonça Filho conducted by critic Ian Haydn Smith
- Making-of featurette
- Three short films by Mendonça Filho – Green Vinyl (2004), Electrodoméstica (2005) and The World Cup in Recife (2014)
- Reversible sleeve featuring two choices of artwork
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Sophie Monks Kaufman.
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