Good Manners ★★★

SLIFF 2018 Spotlight

Roughly halfway through its running time, the sublimely strange Brazilian feature 'Good Manners' shifts with shocking savagery from one species of story into a wildly different one. As such, it’s challenging to discuss the film – a lurid and ambitious genre mashup from the writer-director team of Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas ('Hard Labor' [2011]) – without straying into serious spoiler territory. The feature begins in a chilly, realistic mode laced with prickly racial, gender, and sexual subtext. São Paulo native Clara (Isabél Zuaa, wonderfully self-possessed) is an Afro-Brazilian nurse who interviews for a nanny position with Ana (Marjorie Estiano), a wealthy white expectant mother in a chic, high-rise apartment. Despite her thin résumé, Clara lands the job when she leaps to respond soothingly and intuitively to Ana’s stabbing pregnancy pangs...

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