Heitor Dhalia :: Brazil :: 2009 : 1h43
The Sao Paulo writer Mathias (Vincent Cassel) and his wife Clarice (Débora Bloch) are at their beach house in the coastal town of Buzios for the summer. They spend their days living a bohemian life with their friends, their three children and the rest of the young rat-pack from the beach. Their beautiful eldest daughter Filipa (Laura Neiva) is coming of age, although sitting on her fathers lap she is slowly but surely discovering her femininity. However the spring time of her youth sees not only the pitfalls of young love, but also a growing rift between her parents, and the threat of a disintegrating home.
A Deriva is a pleasure to watch, despite a simple storyline. It hinges on the relationship between Mathias and his daughter Filipa, as the film’s warm focal point of the fragmenting family. Their roles are well worked out in these trying times. Mathias, and his wife Clarise, wisely protect their children from exposure of their marital rifts, but naturally the children -and specifically the eldest- feel the overshadowing conjugal burst.
What is perhaps the most remarkable, is how the same story filmed through the eyes of another culture, would have been so different. There are two elements at play here: a romanticised Brazil and the time frame. By placing the story in Brazil, we are taken into a joyful carefree latin world of beaches, beautiful people, love and dance. By placing the story in the 1980s, were see a reality as if it was recalled by a much older Filipa looking back. It is a reality without a technology-inspired stress and superficiality, with a seeming authenticity of life orientated around physical people, living in homes filled with curiosity relics, without made-in-China goods and television-mimicking sentiments. It is a vision which justifies a perhaps kinder look at reality.
For everyone who is wondering how French top actor Vincent Cassel found himself in a small Brazilian production – Cassel is a frequent visitor of Bahia, the African-influenced state in the tropical north. He speaks Portuguese fluently, but as all attentive viewers will notice, it is not his (slightly off) accent which puts him in a curious position in the film – his role does not get lines as credible as those which the other characters get. Mathias’ character, and hence the film, is saved by Cassel’s acting talent. But then the movie was destined to float or sink on Cassel and Laura Neiva’s capacity to convey the sensual lightness of living anyway. And that, they pull of masterfully.