Movie #119 2020: Bacurau (2019)

Remember in my review of Secretary when I told you all about my MUBI subscription? Well, whilst I enjoyed Secretary enough, I was not prepared for how much I would completely fall in love with this second movie I chose to watch.

Bacurau – an import from the gorgeous nation of Brazil – has an interesting premise. Its Letterboxd page (alongside most other sites) lists the plot as follows:

Bacurau, a small town in the Brazilian sertão, mourns the loss of its matriarch, Carmelita, who lived to be 94. Days later, its inhabitants notice that their community has vanished from most maps.

(Source: https://letterboxd.com/film/bacurau/)

That alone is enough to draw anyone in, right? Not only does it sound weird as shit, but it sounds like some interesting enigma thriller. Let me tell you this: there’s so much more to this movie than the village of Bacurau disappearing from the map.

This movie was full of so many brilliant twists and turns and I can honestly say that I didn’t see a single one of them coming. They’re so well-crafted that I feel as though I can’t actually go into much detail on them because this is one of those movies in which going in blind is the best way to watch it.

The sad truth is, no one outside movie critic circles is talking about this, and I won’t lie, it’s probably because it’s a foreign film. Perhaps what is making this movie even less well known is that it’s not only a foreign film, but it’s also a Brazilian film. I mean, who has ever seen a Brazilian movie before? I certainly haven’t. Maybe that’s me being ignorant, but I challenge anyone in the UK to name one. Other than City of God, I bet you can’t.

Regardless of all that, we’ll go back to Bacurau. I’m not sure why I do it – and I bet a lot of you do this too – but every time I go in to an indie-style film, I expect them to look low budget and grainy and ‘artsy’. I’m not even sure if this falls into the ‘indie’ category if I’m honest, but it only made $3.4 million at the box office, so it can hardly be labelled a blockbuster. Anyway, this movie proves me completely wrong by looking so glossy and expensive, and I have learned my lesson.

On top of the gloss, the cinematography here is out of this world. There’s no point in even trying to pick anything out, because it has a little bit of everything. Think of any Best Cinematography Oscar winner, and this will be just as good (if not better) as most of them. I realise that that’s a generous call, but I stand by it. (To give credit where it’s due, the cinematographer for Bacurau is a young Brazilian man named Pedro Sotero, and he deserves all the praise in the world). There’s a short sequence involving capoeira that is shot to perfection with every frame.

A little research shows you that this was also a Cannes selection in 2019. Man, that was a strong year for Cannes, huh? Parasite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire understandably got the most love that year, but this film is very close behind for me.

This movie’s complex plot has a not-so-subtle nod to old Westerns, yet it adapts that idea expertly to appeal to a modern audience. In that regard, Bacurau is nothing short of brilliance. Again, I can’t go into too much detail here – as I mentioned before, this movie is better the less you know about it, and for that, it draws comparisons to Parasite. It’s just as mysterious, hectic, and interesting that I wish it was getting as much attention as the Palme d’Or winner.

The only fault I found with this movie were the child actors. I mean, jeez, they leave a lot to be desired. But to be honest, this film’s message is so strong that I got over that immediately. Need a hint? Do you remember The Hunt? Well this movie is what that movie can only wish to be.

I genuinely cannot say any more about this movie without ruining it. So I guess you’ll have to go watch it, eh? *wink wink*

Bacurau is available to stream on MUBI. (Remember, they currently have a 30 day free trial via Amazon Prime Video!)

TQR Category Ratings:

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