Alistair Ryder’s review published on Letterboxd:
Making a political film is a difficult art. With hot button issues likely losing all relevancy between the time of writing a screenplay and the film’s eventual cinematic release, it can be very easy for a well-intentioned, thought provoking film to become out of touch and out of date. However, on a global spectrum, the specific political implications of a film so apparent to the national viewer can easily get lost in translation, or appear entirely alien to the film itself upon research.
Such is the case of Aquarius, the excellent new film from director Kleber Mendonça Filho, which upon viewing appears to be simply a heartfelt look at the personal cost of gentrification – an issue as relevant to Brazilian society as it is to more prosperous nations internationally.
In recent years, many films have aimed to directly tackle the human cost of gentrification, yet often fall short when trying to simplify a complex issue into basic moral terms. Little Men, the 2016 film from director Ira Sachs, aimed to examine both sides of the argument, yet still fell slight and underdeveloped. Aquarius proves that it is only by affording this topic a quietly epic backdrop, spending more time developing a believable central character in the midst of the situation as opposed to merely dissecting the situation itself, is the only way this topic can be handled from a cinematic perspective.