Aquarius02 Feb 2017
A scene early in the film, right after the prologue, depicts Clara – the protagonist played brilliantly by Sonia Braga – waking up in her apartment, gathering her beautiful hair in an up-do, preparing for her day. She asks her maid what’s for lunch. She moves leisurely around her living room, preparing to go to the beach. She attends a community laugh exercise class (which looks amazing, by the way), and takes a dip in the ocean.
This is the pace at which this film moves. It is leisurely but resolute. We get lots of side conversations, action that doesn’t necessarily move the plot forward, but paints a more and more vivid picture of Clara and her family.
Clara, like Isabelle Huppert’s Michèle in Elle is a post-feminist character of sorts. She is complex, layered, sexually and artistically free, independent financially and emotionally, and a member of a family about whom she cares a lot but is not entirely in service of. It is interesting to me that actresses over 40 or 50 are getting the chance to play characters like this. I’m eager to see younger actresses play similarly complex characters. The first that comes do mind is Elle Fanning in The Neon Demon, but even she is too tied up in her sexuality to truly get at this.
The comparisons to Dilma Rouseff, Brazil’s recently ousted political leader, and the conversations about gentrification and place are all apt. This film, like all good art, is both art and criticism.