Human Study

Kleber Mendonça Filho’s sophomore feature finds the critic turned filmmaker once again drawn to the residential setting. Here, the filmmaker narrows his focus from the en­semble cast of Neighbouring Sounds (2012), to tell the story of 65-year-old writer Clara (Sonia Braga). She is the last resident of the Aquarius, and her refusal to leave creates a conflict with the construction company that has acquired all of the neighbouring apartments – in itself the necessary provocation to sustain this character study.

Through the notion of space, Filho emphasises our own role as authors, sometimes antagonistic, beyond which space is innocent and otherwise undefined. The film’s strength is the willingness to question the selfishness and ignorance of not only the heads of the construction company but of Clara herself, thereby opening up the dimensions of its moral consciousness to create a lasting impression.

This is an incisive study of human nature, the struggle between our individual and social im­pulses or responsibilities, anchored by Braga’s performance, which feels authentic and real.

Paul Risker

Aquarius is available now via Arrow Academy. For more information:

1.Still from Aquarius. Courtesy of Arrow Academy.