This movie picture (Her History's Mistress, in loose translation) is one of those that make you think long and hard about life, love, the individual destiny of common people and the role that small chance decisions play in changing all this in dramatic ways.
The main actresses of the film (Marieta Severo and Debora Fallabela) plays Carolina, now a 50-old women who is living alone with her husband of 30 years, Luiz Cláudio (played by Rodrigo Santoro and Antonio Fagundes), an architect. Their four kids are gone from the nest and they are selling their big beachfront apartment, where they have lived happily most of their adult life, and moving to a smaller flat.
Carolina starts to relive her past years as a young ballet student, who wanted to become a big actress. She feels frustrated that she had to abandon her ambitions in exchange for a married and emotionally stable life with her first boyfriend and the great love of her life. She then replays in her imagination how her life could be different if she could decide in different ways. She imagines two alternative life tracks: one, becoming the great actress she wanted to be, and the other, becoming a solitary spinster with a bleak job. In both her imagined lives she didn't marry her present husband. She wants to ask for divorce, so that she could be a mistress of her own destiny again.
The plot may look as being too cliché, but actually, thanks to a masterful cinematic adaptation of the original book, a good use of flashback, and to the gorgeous performances by Severo, Fallabela and Santoro (the veteran Fagundes' performance is not up to his usual standard, but that's not his fault: his character is bovinely calm and does not demand much of him), the movie picture delivers very well. It is never boring and surprises you all the time, with humor, good storytelling and delightful insights and lines. Photography and sound are absolutely world class, and the musical background is marvelous (the leitmotiv for Carolina is the beautiful melody Dindi, composed many years ago by Tom Jobim).
The final (I will not spoil the surprise) is quite emotional, and it is hard to anyone to avoid some tears.
For me, this is what movies should be about. Technically well done, esthetically beautiful; entertaining, but at the same time thoughtful and intellectually fulfilling. It is interesting to observe how the "feeling" of good Brazilian movies are so different from movies from other countries. I am a Brazilian, so I don't know for sure, but I would like to read what Americans, Europeans or Asiatics feel when they watch this artful and creative landscape of human emotions and relationships according to our national character.
The director Daniel Filho is to be applauded for one more victory of the new Brazilian cinema, with so many recent international triumphs, such as Cidade de Deus, Abril Despedaçado, Central do Brasil, and others.
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