Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
In a year worth noting for the number of strong women behind and in front of the camera, the most winning for many in the NZIFF audience is bound to be Dona Clara, the indomitable protagonist of Aquarius. She is played with great authenticity and flair by Sonia Braga, the star of such landmark Brazilian films as Kiss of the Spider Woman and Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. A music critic in her mid-60s, Clara is the last woman standing when developers propose to demolish the lovely old beachside apartment building in which she’s spent the better part of a very full life.
“Kleber Mendonça Filho’s stunning feature debut Neighbouring Sounds [NZIFF12] boldly announced a major new voice in Brazilian cinema… His much-anticipated follow-up is a more subtle film but no less mature, a calmer film but no less angry. Starring the incomparable Sonia Braga as a well-off widow holding on to her apartment against developer pressures, Aquarius is a character study as well as a shrewd meditation on the needless transience of place and the way physical space elides with our identity…
If the film feels as much Braga’s as Filho’s, it’s because the director has presented this gift to her (and to the viewer) on a silver platter. A breathtakingly intuitive actress, she’s beautifully aged into an aristocratically sensual physicality and makes Clara’s firmness mingle with tenderness. The camera rarely leaves her, and we as audience value every moment we’re in her presence.” — Jay Weissberg, Variety