Review: Futuro Beach (Praia do Futuro)

Futuro Beach is a film that may upon a cursory, superficial examination be as opaque as the atmosphere of its closing shot. However, much as the fog, the source music and score paint in tones and moods; so does this film. In this painting it explores emotions unspoken through the most part via its imagery, edits, compositions and contrasts. However, this ought not scare anyone away as there is not some hidden mosaic that the viewer himself needs to refocus. The conflicts are mostly internal but the struggles and emotions are clear; insight into the cultures in question here will only deepen appreciation, but are not critical.

The synopsis from Strand Releasing is as follows:

Part gay romance, part inquisitive self-journey, FUTURO BEACH is a stunning examination of lives lost and found. Donato (Wagner Moura) works as a lifeguard at the spectacular but treacherous Praia do Futuro beach in Brazil; Konrad (Clemens Schick) is an ex-military thrill-seeker from Germany vacationing with a friend. After Donato saves Konrad from drowning, but fails to save his other friend, initial sexual sparks give way to a deeper, emotional connection. Donato decides to leave everything behind, including his ailing mother and younger brother, Ayrton, to travel back to Berlin with Konrad. There, he finds both confusion and liberation, and his journey for love soon turns into a deeper search for his own identity. Eight years later, an unexpected visit from Ayrton, brings all three men back together as they struggle to reconcile the pain of loss and longing, instinctively drawn to each other in search of hope and a brighter future.

The film’s three acts are headed with three title cards that introduce titular theme for each segment of the story: “The Drowner’s Embrace,” “A Hero Cut in Half,” and “A German-Speaking Ghost.” In the first portion of the film there is the struggle to overcome as a professional’s confidence and a foreigner’s relationship is torn apart. In this portion of the film, as in the rest of it, there is a struggle to balance relationships as Donato balances his relationship and responsibility to his younger brother Ayrton and forms a new bond with Konrad.

The first section does also set the stage for many parallels that the story plays with. The opening act closes with Ayrton on his own imagining himself as Iron Man fighting off an unseen assailant. This action will be mirrored when he is older and has found temporary refuge with a new companion to dull his pain. This superhero motif is clearly important as it is also referenced in the title to act two. It also serves the obvious function of illustrating a child’s idealized view of his older sibling. However, the fact that this theme comes back to reflect Donato’s angst as he struggles to decide on a path for his life is also highly significant.

“A German-Speaking Ghost” is not only a very fitting title to the section, but a fitting conclusion. Parallels again come into play as the film finds its climax on a beach much as it reached its first highpoint on one. The visuals in this film, and the activities that constitute screentime, are ones that need to be taken more for their significance than for the literal activity. an example being what is a character running to or from when they jump on to a bike and ride off.

This chapter title is also significant because for a while you are in a bit of doubt as to whom it refers to. In this film you not only have three distinct POVs that represent different life-experiences but you can identify with and understand all of them. There is a triumvirate of powerful performances (Moura, Schick and Barbosa) that feed off one another and take turns coming front and center.

The emotional currents and undercurrents are also strongly supported by the music both brought into the fold and created by Hauschka that allows the film to have the tenor that director Aïnouz usually desires to find in the narrative. The best evidence of this are the closing notes and frames, which act as the zenith of this symbiosis.

Futuro Beach is, from its start, about characters losing and trying to find themselves; connecting, disconnecting and trying to reconnect; saving each other and failing to save themselves; and, ultimately, finds beauty in the discomforts created by distance and yearning and the solitary journey of finding oneself. It takes a gamble with its narrative ellipse, but like a strong story it punctuates the end of its dramatic phrase properly and memorably.

9/10

2015 BAM Award Considerations – February

I know that awards season on this blog just ended, and it still continues in the outside world; however, assembling those nominees is a year-long process. So the cycle begins anew with posts at the end of the month and master lists offline in preparation for the big dates of the award’s calendar year. All titles viewed, new and old,  can be seen my Letterboxd.

Eligible Titles

Futuro Beach
All the Wilderness
Still Alice
The Alps From Above
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Lilting
Splitting Adam
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Life According to Nino
Young Ones
The Boy Next Door
Jupiter Ascending

Best Picture

Futuro Beach
Kingsman: The Secret Service

Best Foreign Film

Futuro Beach
The Alps From Above
Lilting
Life According to Nino

Best Documentary

The Alps From Above

Most Overlooked Picture

As intimated in my Most Underrated announcement this year, I’ve decided to make a change here. Rather than get caught up in me vs. the world nonsense and what a film’s rating is on an aggregate site, the IMDb or anywhere else, I want to champion smaller, lesser-known films. In 2011 with the selection of Toast this move was really in the offing. The nominees from this past year echo that fact. So here, regardless of how well-received something is by those who’ve seen it, I’ll be championing indies and foreign films, and the occasional financial flop from a bigger entity.

Futuro Beach
All the Wilderness
Lilting
Life According to Nino

Best Director

Futuro Beach
All the Wilderness
Kingsman: The Secret Service

Best Actress

Julianne Moore Still Alice
Pei-pei Cheng Lilting

Best Actor

Wagner Moura Futuro Beach
Ben Whishaw Lilting
Taron Egerton Kingsman: The Secret Service
Vegar Hoel Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

Best Supporting Actress

Virginia Madsen All the Wilderness
Kristen Stewart Still Alice
Amrita Acharia Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Naomi Christie Lilting
Rifka Lodeizen Life According to Nino

Best Supporting Actor

Clemens Schick Futuro Beach
Jesuíta Barbosa Futuro Beach
Danny DeVitoAll the Wilderness
Stig Frode Henriksen Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Peter Bowles Lilting
Samuel L. Jackson Kingsman: The Secret Service
Colin Firth Kingsman: The Secret Service
Koen De Graeve Life According to Nino
Nicholas Hoult Young Ones

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Elle Fanning Young Ones

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Kodi Smit-McPhee All the Wilderness
Jace Norman Splitting Adam
Rohan Timmermans Life According to Nino
Kodi Smit-McPhee Young Ones

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Isabelle Fuhrman All the Wilderness

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Sávio Ygor Ramos Futuro Beach
Carl-Magnus Adner Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Seth Isaac Johnson Splitting Adam
Alex Nikolov Kingsman: The Secret Service
Aren Bouwmeester Life According to Nino

Best Cast

Futuro Beach
All the Wilderness
Still Alice
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Lilting
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Life According to Nino

Best Youth Ensemble

Splitting Adam
Life According to Nino
Young Ones

Best Original Screenplay

Futuro Beach
All the Wilderness
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Lilting
Life According to Nino
Young Ones

Best Adapted Screenplay

Still Alice
Kingsman: The Secret Service

Best Score

Futuro Beach
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Lilting
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Life According to Nino

Jupiter Ascending

Best Editing

Futuro Beach
All the Wilderness
Kingsman: The Secret Service

Young Ones

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

All the Wilderness
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Young Ones
Jupiter Ascending

Best Cinematography

Futuro Beach
All the Wilderness
Life According to Nino
Young Ones

Best Art Direction

All the Wilderness
Lilting
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Life According to Nino
Young Ones
Jupiter Ascending

Best Costume Design

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Jupiter Ascending

Best Makeup

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Jupiter Ascending

Best Visual Effects

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Jupiter Ascending

Best (Original) Song

Futuro Beach

I commented last year that there was a film that had me reconsidering the soundtrack as a potential category. It’s happened again so I will be tracking it and seeing if it’s worth re-including this year.

Best Soundtrack

Futuro Beach
All the Wilderness