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Do you like going blind into a film that consistently surprises you with shifting genres, bloody surprises and unexpected, audacious choices? Read no further and book yourself a ticket on this year’s most exhilarating cinematic rollercoaster.
Still need convincing? Brazilian Kleber Mendonça Filho is no stranger to festival audiences (Neighbouring Sounds, NZIFF12; Aquarius, NZIFF16). Having demonstrated an acute eye and ear for cinematic detail, and an appetite for channelling social outrage into blistering narrative form, Mendonça Filho’s latest (co-directed with longtime collaborator Juliano Dornelles) introduces us to a near-future world of water wars and rebellions led by a genderfluid revolutionary. Meanwhile, a scientist returns to her home village to commemorate the death of its matriarch, whose mourners include a hot-blooded doctor played by Brazilian legend Sonia Braga.
Whatever that sounds like, it’s not. The shifts and surprises in the patiently unfolding narrative – from a flying saucer to literally wiping a town off the (Google) map, and that’s not a tenth of it – left Cannes audiences applauding key plot turns. The fact that the town’s school is named after John Carpenter may give you a hint for what’s to come – touchstones might also include everything from Jodorowsky to Wake in Fright to The Most Dangerous Game – but Bacurau is as concerned with revolutionary history as delivering genre thrills. “Don’t you want to visit the museum?” will never sound like an anodyne question again, and the face of revolutionary Brazilian politics has never been so vivid or thrilling. — Doug Dillaman