A WOLF AT THE DOOR (O Lobo atrás da Porta)
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten for Shockya. Databased on Rotten Tomatoes.
Director: Fernando Coimbra
Screenwriter: Fernando Coimbra
Cast: Milhem Cortaz, Leandra Leal, Fabiula Nascimento, Juliano Cazarre, Paulo Tiefenthaler
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 3/2/15
Opens: March 27, 2015
Tourists going to Rio have been warned that because of widespread poverty, criminals living in the favelas may be mugging people whom they believe are carrying money, or, even more lucrative but mroe daring lies the threat of being kidnapped and held for ransom in Brazil’s most widely visited city. In “A Wolf at the Door,” writer-director Fernando Coimbra—known before for little more than a trio of shorts—took the Knight Grand Jury Prize for Best Film and Best Director at the Miami International Festival, and no wonder. With a circular script that’s airtight, meaning no plot holes to speak of, and a pace that’s both deliberate and riveting, “O Lobo atrás da Porta” as the film is known in its original Brazilian Portuguese, scores as a thriller based on a true story and yet another examination of the dangers of adulterous relationships. The triangular nature of the relationship is not condemned on moral grounds but only because it sets up a desire for revenge that moves forward and backward with a surprising, even ghastly Greek-tragic conclusion.
The two particulars, Lenadra Leal as Rosa and Milhem Cortaz as Bernardo, turn out terrific performances that will keep the audience guessing about the motive of the kidnapping of a small child since money is never a problem deeply felt by any of the cast. The plot is set in motion at a train stop in Rio as Rosa flirts outrageously with Bernardo, a man who looks a good fifteen years her senior and is no match for the 25-year-old woman in the appearance department. Perhaps Rosa needs a father figure—and a decrepit old alcoholic who is perhaps demented as well is shown in a silent role living with her. Before Rosa and Bernardo are shown at their hapless meeting, police are rounding up people who may be involved in the abduction, most particularly the girl’s teacher, who uses little common sense in releasing the girl not to her mother but to a strange woman whom the girl seems to know and follow into the streets.
The middle section of the film flashes hot sex scenes between Rosa and Bernardo, the man insisting to Rosa’s dismay that he loves his wife. Rosa’s desperation is great enough to cause her to meet secretly with Bernardo’s wife Sylvia (Fabiula Nascimento), who in an intricate plan involving a loudmouthed hooker, seeking to break up her lover’s marriage.
The theme of adultery has a long history going back to the Greeks (think of “Medea” and “Agamemnon” where cheating leads to terrible vengeance), and Coimbra’s drama pays homage to thousands of years of mythology and theater in giving us in the audience fair warning to remain steadfast and loyal to our spouses.
Unrated. 100 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B+