Aquarius ★★★½

A pretty good mix tape about things that stay. Sonia Braga deserves a lot of the praise she received, but I’d argue the film most essential element is the leisure but exact pace (140 minutes rarely moves this natural) because this is a movie about things, their ownership and the value time gives to them and it is on those moments that it feels stronger. Aquarius is very much a second film often playing a little too safe around elements that worked the previous time (another nightmare sequence, Kleber’s tendency towards demonstrative dialogue, his strong foot at mapping space). The main difference is that while Neighboring Sounds was a pressure cooker narrative about general malaise, Aquarius is specific not only in focusing in just a single character but on given these malaise more clear identified representation, as a friend pointed out while both movies have return of the repressed nightmares, the much weaker one here actually gives it a body in the old maid. Ownership plays a large role not only at who owns the building, but other ways, even in how Braga treats her nephew as a surrogate son. The movie is very good at playing its parts and contradictions against themselves, Braga’s stubbornness is both what gives her strength in her fight with the developers and what makes her not the easiest person to be around. Brazilian film critic Inacio Araujo point out how the major plot beats could come out of an old western (it even ends with a satisfying cathartic showdown), Aquarius as a whole is very much about the way time allows things repurposed this way. The old building, once as much a symbol of affluence as the new condo the developers want to replace, becomes a repository of one woman’s life. As do all those pictures, the old vinyl’s, the cars that used to be part of the family, furniture and music in general that least specific of arts that because of that can always be filled with our own meaning. No surprise the termites are the film ultimate metaphor.

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