Aquarius ★★★★

You're so stubborn. You're like an old lady and a child.

The final moment of Filho's slow-burn contained drama carries all of the righteous indignation it should. It's a brilliantly powerful punctuation mark at the end of this nearly two and a half hour film. And it helps alleviate some of the frustration that the film's central flaw carries: it's simply too little butter spread over too much toast.

That having been said, Sonia Braga's absolutely brilliantly understated performance never overstays its welcome. In fact, the impeccably drawn character contains all of the requisite backstory to keep us invested in her tale. This is a tale of a woman who finds meaning in things. That's not to say she's materialistic or vain. Rather, she's a woman who cherishes the connection and presence of people and things she can touch. She seems to long for genuine physical connection with people.

Filho also weaves themes of colorism and class into the story. But, in many ways, I felt that the themes were more window-dressing than anything. Perhaps this is because I am not from Brazil, nor do I know much about the country and its history. Still, given the richness of the characters, I would have appreciated a more pointed exploration of the themes. I'm also not entirely sure the prologue was necessary. It set up certain themes that were developed later on, but I still firmly believe that, had the scene been edited out, the film would have felt cohesive and natural.

Regardless of my problems with the film, Aquarius is brilliantly written and performed. It's one of the best character studies in recent memory and I give it a 4/5.

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