Aquarius ★★½

¨So when you like it, it's vintage; when you don't like it, it's old. Is that right?¨

Nominated for the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Kleber Mendonca Filho's Aquarius is a carefully constructed character driven drama that banks on Sonia Braga´s subtle and beautiful performance. Braga is a famous Brazilian actress who is best known for her Golden Globe nominated performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman. This might just be the performance of her career as she plays a lonely widow who refuses to move out of her apartment despite the insistence of a gigantic construction corporation that wants to tear the building down and build a modern one. Braga's Doña Clara has no intention of selling her apartment despite being the only one left in the company's way. The building is old and abandoned and it symbolizes a past era, one that Clara isn't ready to let go of. She's a music critic who still enjoys listening to music on vinyl records and despite living alone she has a relaxing routine which is being interrupted by the insistence of the construction company to move her out. The film goes back and forth in time as Clara reminisces about her past and what her apartment has meant for her.

Despite Braga's wonderful performance and the symbolism behind her actions, this character driven drama is hurt by its extremely slow pacing and overlong run time. The film is as boring as the plot synopsis sounds. Following the routine of a 65 year old widow isn't something we can find appealing in a film that lasts for nearly two and a half hours. This could've been a great film if it was trimmed down at least forty minutes. I enjoyed some elements of the story as well as Braga's performance, but I didn't think the flashbacks were necessary as they didn't add much to the story. Aquarius is full of symbolism and metaphors, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good film considering they are a bit too obvious. The film does end on a strong note, but I simply wasn't blown away by this character slash society study.

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