“Aquarius”: fortune favors the feisty

ROSEMARY SCHWEITZER | schwe035@rangers.uwp.edu

On the seventeenth of May, Aquarius was shown at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The film, directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and starring Sonia Braga, was released at the height of a political crisis revolving around the impeachment of Brazil’s 36th president, Dilma Rousseff. The cast and crew of Aquarius were more than vocal about their opinions on the impeachment between the film festival and its official release in September of the same year, garnering the film much attention. Because of the vocal nature of the crew, it was seen as a retaliation by the Brazilian government when film was not selected as the country’s entry to the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

Government disapproval

Despite the government’s supposed disapproval of the film, Aquarius went on to be nominated for several awards, including the Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film and the César Award for Best Foreign Film, among many others. Aquarius then went on to win ten out of its nineteen nominations, including three awards for best film, and four for best a actress. The film also earned a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.6 out of 10 on IMDb.

Why all the fuss?

Aquarius centers around a 65-year-old retired movie critic, though the first scene of the movie takes place roughly 30 years before the rest of the film. We are introduced to a young Clara, smiling and dancing as she recovers from a nasty bout of breast cancer. Within the first ten minutes, we are accosted by the first unnecessary shot of two adults engaged in what should be a private moment. Indeed, it is not a mortal sin to show nudity on a screen (the film is unrated for a reason) and it does set the tone for what the audience can expect over the next two hours, but surely there are better times (Better times such half way through the film when, in a transitional shot, a couple is clearly seen having sex on the beach. Better times, like when Clara stumbles upon an orgy and then precedes to call male prostitute to entertain her for the evening.) Suffice it to say, that the more delicate may want to shield their eyes or wait for the next foreign film in UW-Parkside’s series.

Touching moments

I digress. Clara resides in an old apartment building called the Aquarius and lives there quite happily until a development firm begins buying up each of the apartments. They intend to tear down the Aquarius and build a new complex on the spot, but Clara has vowed to only leave her home when she is carried out in a box. What follows is the touching story of a woman living a complicated but undeniably real life.

If you have a couple hours, and missed UW-Parkside’s showing of Aquarius, it may be worth your time to seek out the film online or your local library. Happy viewing.

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