Aquarius ★★★★

The scope of this is staggering, if a tad unwieldy, going a step beyond capturing an entire life on camera. Instead, Aquarius explodes into a sprawl of family and friends that makes the viewer feel the weight of a life that has been lived. The central conflict of Clara being pressured to leave her apartment isn't much of a conflict at all, as Clara stubbornly refuses to even consider the offer from the very start. However, it hangs over every moment, very much because of Sonia Braga's towering performance. Not only is Clara's indignation deeply felt, but there's a certain melancholic introspection that she carries from day to day. I honestly don't know how to describe it, but it's the same look I see in my parents' eyes when they talk about retiring. I can recognize it, the sudden rush of life flashing before one's eyes, acknowledging that certain decisions have led to this specific point, knowing that relationships change and the ones you love will also. I can't identify with it; I'm a nineteen year old asshole. But I've seen that look, that strain for an anchor as time keeps barreling forwards.

To Clara, her apartment has come to represent her entire life. She carries her experience as a witness to the world's changes day to day. When Clara is confronted with cancer again, it attacks a different kind of body, one that doesn't have organs or limbs but one that she has carried throughout her life. Only in the film's final chapter does she come to realize that the central conflict must come to an end, and she strikes back against cancer, against anti-life, with a rage that has been honed for decades. Probably one of the best final shots of any movie.

Ranking 2016 (at #7)

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