Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
The sinuous physicality of the central characters in this Brazilian slice of life is rendered all the more tantalising by the unpredictability of their desires. The erotic tension in Neon Bull is remarkable, and, as you may have already heard, finds release in a prolonged and tender sex scene, at once monumentally strange and sublimely simple. Centred on a cowboy working the pens on a backcountry rodeo circuit, the film draws us into a tough, macho world in which gender roles are much less prescribed than you might assume. Broad-chested, handsome Iremar (Juliano Cazarré), his peroxide blonde boss, Galega, and the streetwise young daughter, Cacá, whom she treats like a sister, constitute a tetchily functional makeshift family. The intriguing Iremar holds himself apart from the earthier pursuits on offer – a botched raid on a prize stallion’s precious bodily fluids notwithstanding. His aspirations lie away from the pens: Galega, we discover, moonlights as an exotic dancer and it is Iremar who designs and sews her costumes. If you think you see where this is heading, you are bound to be wrong, but don’t be surprised if you feel elated beyond reason when Iremar scores his fleeting taste of heaven.