Neighboring Sounds ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Lively, character-filled drama about how the occupants of a neighborhood of condominiums in Brazil react when a security team is hired for their street. It's quite engaging, but doesn't justify its own attention to detail and constant straying and meandering; there's simply no excuse for a film with its ultimately simple structure to be as long as it is. It's caught halfway between having a plot and ignoring the idea of having one; I'd be fine with either version of the film, but the one that attempts both just irks me in its kitchen-sink tendency toward capturing so much that says so little of consequence. It's interesting that one character masturbates with a vibrating washing machine, I guess, but do we really need to know that? An illicit sexual liaison in a stranger's house feels like it should have some consequence in the story but never does. All roads lead to nowhere. Similarly, writer-director Kleber Mendonça Filho takes great care that we notice things that end up never being acknowledged or mentioned again: a deflated soccer ball, an earring, a suicide. I know this is on me but I find this kind of thing deeply unsatisfying; with so many people, we haven't time to know them well enough for the moments that "ring true" not to feel cheap and superficial, and any perception of this as an eclectic slice of life without any forced-hand plottiness is neutered by the (extremely fucking stupid) ending, which suddenly decides the film we've just seen is a Breaking Bad episode. I know I'm a broken record about this but I firmly disagree with a whole hell of a lot of what modern arthouse directors seem to think is cinematically interesting; movies like this and many other celebrated entries of the current decade feel more like episodes of hour-long TV series to me -- not to say that my attention flagged for even a second, but that's also why I felt cheated -- and there's a reason I'd rather watch movies.