Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds was an expert portrayal of a small-scale example of national class stratification, getting uncomfortably deep into the minute tensions within a gated middle class community in Recife, Brazil, and immersing viewers in an unshakeable sense of bourgeois loneliness and stagnancy. His newest film, Aquarius, whose trailer was just released and can be viewed below, looks to be a similar combination of both meticulous character and socioeconomic studies.
The film stars Sonia Braga — who American audiences might recognize most from Kiss of the Spider Woman and, yes, Samantha Jones’ short-term paint-smearing, sexually-awakening, household-object-throwing girlfriend on Sex and the City — as a retired music journalist and widow named Clara. She’s been living in the same apartment in which she was raised, and intends to remain there for the rest of her life. But society, and hawkish developers, seem to not want to let her have that simple wish. In a story any “hot right now”-city dwelling American can certainly recognize, this apartment building’s history is soon to be bulldozed and replaced with a luxury condominium; while the rest of the inhabitants leave, Clara remains to fight for the building, and against urban displacement.
As with Neighboring Sounds, the trailer makes it seem as though Filho’s able to beautifully and tensely personify location. The film premiered at Cannes, and was glowingly received by critics. The Telegraph gave it a 5-star review, saying:
The film’s lucid sense of place and space, helped along by the camera’s eye for sensual visual detail and sound design to make your eardrums groan in delight, is one of the film’s most generous pleasures.
Watch the trailer: