Sonia Braga stars in this formally inventive meditation on class and memory from Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho
In his critically acclaimed debut, Neighbouring Sounds, Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho presented audiences with a multifaceted portrait of a middle-class community in Recife. His follow-up, Aquarius, shares the same location, but centers on the struggle of one woman, Clara (Sonia Braga), a 65-year-old music critic fighting to save her home from the clutches of a property developer. The focus might have narrowed, but both films share the same obsession with class and memory, with Filho once again using intelligent sound design to allude to the world outside the frame – one teeming with anxiety and political anger.
The film is constructed entirely around Braga’s performance. A sensuous blend of anger and stubbornness, Clara shows only the faintest signs of weakness, yet the fragility that seeps through elevates this tale of individual resistance into a wider contemplation on inherited guilt and the distinction between house and home. Combining formal inventiveness with a flair for storytelling, Aquarius is a triumph of socially conscious filmmaking; a bold and electrifying film that's grand in scope, but intimate in its execution. [Patrick Gamble]