LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: GOOD MANNERS – the second collab from Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas – screened in Official Competition at the Embankment Garden Cinema (12 OCT). Here’s our writeup.
GOOD MANNERS (2017, Brazil, France, 135min)
We don’t want you to know too much about this one. Not for any highbrow reason but GOOD MANNERS contains so many delicious elements it would be a shame to go in too well informed.
What we will say is this: see GOOD MANNERS as soon as you can on as big a screen as possible. It’s an ambitious Brazilian fairy tale with all the tools of the cinema, ancient and modern, thrown into it. Rather than being a tired stew of familiar flavours, it uses these tools intelligently to find pitch-perfect ways of telling a story that veers into the extremes. Every creative decision seduces your suspension of disbelief as the directors lure you ever deeper into the woods. We were sat perched on the edge of our seats, faces radiant with delight, when the final scenes dropped our jaws.
“It’s so good to be near someone who likes you”
What’s it about? A care worker (Clara – Isabél Zuaa) gets recruited as a live-in nanny to help her employer (Ana – Marjorie Estiano) through her first pregnancy. Across potential barriers of race, wealth and class their odd couple relationship evolves into something deeper. Strange behaviours – and yet darker mysteries – start to spiral. The pregnancy goes full term. Things then take a dramatic leap forward to when the sickly boy (Joel – Miguel Lobo) is 7 and at school.
GOOD MANNERS deals with the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood as parenting decisions are tested to the extreme. Raising a child is truly a labour of love.
“Follow the breadcrumbs // Don’t get lost along the way”
So far, so São Paulo slice of life. But we know this is a fairy tale from the opening flock wallpaper titles to the unicorn music box in the unborn baby’s bedroom. Along the way, the directors brilliantly reinforce both the artifice and the flesh-and-blood reality of the universe they have created. The batty ensemble cast of neighbours and co-workers adds extra Almodóvar. From every angle and every beautiful frame, this is a compelling tale that is at times both touching and sensational. Dutra and Rojas aren’t afraid to shock you.
“That’s no food for a kid”
GOOD MANNERS is exactly the kind of film we wanted to see at the London Film Festival: characterful contemporary filmmaking, unafraid to push both film and social boundaries. The official programme notes describe it as ‘innovative’. We prefer the slightly less hubristic, but no less complimentary, ‘inventive’. GOOD MANNERS leaves you with that feeling of being fully satisfied by something you haven’t seen before and can’t wait to see again.
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- Find GOOD MANNERS, Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas on IMDb.
- Catch the co-directors’ first collab HARD LABOUR on import DVD.
- GOOD MANNERS screened in Official Competition at the 61st BFI London Film Festival. Read our other writeups here.
- Don’t just take our blogging word for it (caution! there be spoilers…): CINE-VUE half-liked it, as did THE UP COMING. BROKEN SHARK liked it a lot.
- If you like your contemporary horror from south of the States, try THE UNTAMED or WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Jim Mickle’s USA remake is also very good, making different plays with the same plot. Currently a DVD bargain on the big river).
Featured images: GOOD MANNERS (2017).