From Brazil comes an engaging tale of unknown cousins (till one of them gets out of jail and isn’t welcome back home), steadily shifting from unlikely buddies into inseparable lovers.
Co-director-writer-co-star (along with Mauro Carvalho and Paulo Sousa respectively) Thiago Cazado has crafted a production that will mostly delight gay men and their admirers of all stripes.
In the writing department, there really isn’t anything new under the sun. Raised by his ultra-religious Auntie Lourdes (Juliana Zancanaro is entirely believable as the woman on a literal mission, who is not quite as holy as she seems), godson (get it?) Lucas (newcomer Sousa delights the camera whether wearing clothes or not) worships his own muse: music rather than God. Whether playing hymns for the household prayer meetings to teaching the locals the rudiments of music theory, the isolated young man (“He needs a girlfriend…”) (cross-reference below) is content to leave “the dirt in my brain” to himself.
With the arrival of Mario (Cazado, has no qualms about sharing his body, philosophy and expressive visage with all comers), turns Lucas’ life and sexual appetite upside down. There is little doubt that the long seduction (ending up with an entirely predictable turn of the tables when the aspiring musician readily accepts his predilection for men) cannot fail to result in fulling sex for both. The honesty of the two principals (along with Carvalho’s somewhat discreet, but never shy cinematography), is an ideal mix between unabashed, beautiful bodies and passionate couplings that are miles away from pornography. In many ways, that is the film’s greatest achievement.
The comic relief to the emerging love story comes from two women. Playing Lourdes’ spiritual mate and landlord, Sonia, Carmem Lutcha does a fine job sitting on the fences of devout piety, unbridled capitalism, and—during one of Mario’s most inspired games—sex-starved suppliant (her goat imitation is a literal hoot!).
But it falls to the crotch-grabbing music student Julia (Duda Esteves) to publicly unmask the intimate cousins for what they are after realizing that the love of her dreams has a man in his. Naturally, her odious interventions come to nothing because “If there is love, then God is there” [even between men]. Er, amen.
For balance and a readily tidied last act, lonely man Emilio (Denis Camargo) and his ever-faithful dog Frank (creating a wonderful outdoor sequence fuelled by ukulele and trumpet), allows the budding couple to be at one with nature even as they are more personally at one with themselves.
So don’t go for the well-worn plot points, or just the bare skin on display, take in this film in the hopes that more “kissing cousin” results might turn out just as happily, praise the Lord! JWR