Title: Aquarius

Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho

Starring: Sonia Braga, Maeve Jinkings, Irandhir Santos, Humberto Carrão and Soraide Coleto

The movie acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival, ‘Aquarius,’ discusses an incredibly timely topic: the way real estate investments will stop at nothing to speculate.

The Brazilian drama, directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho, has a majestically intense Sonia Braga bringing to life the story of Clara, the last resident of Aquarius building who refuses to sell her apartment to a construction company that intends to replace it with a new edifice. She is a strong, dignified, self-sufficient woman who has contrasted cancer all her life. She is a fighter and does not want to surrender to those who want to take hold of the house where she spent her childhood, youth, wifehood and motherhood.

The setting is Recife, that looks on the Atlantic Ocean, and has transformed from the dreamy Brazilian Venice of the seventies, into today’s commercial hub. Clara’s mundane odyssey unfolds as a medley of memories intertwined with day to day experiences, that portray the esprit of the former music critic in her natural element: her home.

Her Art Deco apartment has a soul, it is a relative that has accompanied her in the hardest and happiest moments of her life, although the developers see it only as an obstacle to their construction plan. ‘Aquarius’ is a mesmeric tale about  the value of freedom and memory. The freedom not to renounce to pleasure, whether it is through the sense of touch (with sex), taste (with a good glass of wine) or hearing (with an invigorating tune played on a music cassette in a car on the beach or a vinyl at home). Freedom, is the bliss of enjoying a place that preserves the past. Clara battles for this cause.

In these dark times, where international politics seem to forecast moments of oppression, Kleber Mendonça Filho encourages us to fight against bullies to secure the moral memory.

Technical: A

Acting: A*

Story: A+

Overall: A+

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Aquarius Movie Review

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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