SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Constantly interweaving between potent satire, expressionistic fantasy, blazing science-fiction and inexplicably charming romance; Brazil is an utterly audacious and perfect piece of cinematic art. As I see more and more films, I find myself harder to please. So, when I find a film that completely blows me away like I'm seeing moving images for the first time, I take notice.
Truly I felt, as streams of images, sights, and sounds blasted across the screen, that I was experiencing something worth treasuring. Something beautiful. Something daring. Something wonderful....
I cannot phrase my adoration for this film in any simple way. It's an instant favorite, an instant top-10 favorite I may add; and it knocked me on my ass in a way that so few films do anymore. Cinema is my passion, and to see something that is so delightful and thought-provoking in its execution is refreshing; especially in this day and age. That's not to say that 2014 has been a bad year for film, far far far from it, but a film like Brazil hasn't come out before its release or since. It's wholly unique and special.
Terry Gilliam is a director that I've struggled with. While Time Bandits, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, and Monty Python and The Holy Grail are great films; the rest (from what I've seen) have been fairly average and disappointing efforts. Brazil, undoubtedly, is the finest effort from Gilliam, and its one of the greatest directorial efforts that I have personally witnessed. Fantastic shots, winding and alienating camerawork, and powerful visual storytelling all contribute to the impeccable atmosphere and society that was created here. The feeling that this world gives off is comparable to the landscape in Children of Men or the grimy devastation of Blade Runner. Yet, while those respective environments reek of desperation and filth, Brazil ups the ante with a level of whimsy and fantastic humor. The sense of humor doesn't make the disgusting and oppressive aura of the world disappear, but it adds another layer that culminates in a concoction of dark-humor and charming despair.
That's probably the greatest aspect about Brazil, because even though the themes and the topics being discussed are serious; the mix of those themes and the humor makes for a massively entertaining picture. No matter the amount of horrifying moments throughout the film, writers Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown manage to keep a light and joyful tone to this fascinating and deeply-involving story. The cast, which includes Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent, Michael Palin and many more are all brilliant. Everyone involved bring both comedic prowess and emotional honesty, with each individual finding a unique tick for their respective character. This is probably De Niro's wackiest performance, and after you see it, you'll want to thank him personally.
Yet, the main drive of Brazil lies in the pitch-perfect tapestry of themes underneath a sublime and majestic story. Hidden under a surface narrative that is simultaneously a neo-noir, sci-fi fable, and a lighthearted romance; Brazil has a main goal of discussing both bureaucracy and totalitarianism. Following a main character who doesn't fit into these ideals, it gives the film a perfect opportunity to concentrate on how these aspects of society affect politics, big-budget companies, business owners, lavish lifestyles, the unfortunate, and life as a whole. It's splendidly executed, pulled off with gusto and versatility.
The production design, is quite simply, supreme and superb. Norman Garwood brought endless file cabinets, desks, mirrors, and paper forms to the forefront; focusing on the business aspect of the meandering and pointless humdrum of their everyday existence. Brought together with Roger Pratt's sumptuous cinematography and Julian Doyle's piercing editing; the film has an undeniable look that is sure to enthrall and mesmerize. Along with the startling visual sense, the musical score by Michael Kamen is eargasmic; enhancing dream sequences to a point that I didn't want the main character to awake from their slumber.
Brazil is honestly one of the most breathtaking and impressive films that I have seen. Subtle, grandiose, stirring, mind-boggling, excellent, hilarious, and jaw-dropping; the film both tells a story of emotional resonance and of biting satire. I'm running out of adjectives, so I'll just use one more.