This review contains spoilers, if you don’t what to know what happens look away now! That said, if a film’s success rests on it’s one big reveal, can it be truly good? We’re not too sure.
Included in the official competition at this year’s London Film Festival is Brazilian werewolf flick Good Manners, and it’s possibly the most unexpected and unpredictable films in the line-up. Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas squeeze as much as they can into this beautiful monstrosity of a movie.
We begin in São Paolo, a city with a high contrast between the rich and the poor. The acting is on top form here and in the first act the dynamics between Isabèl Zuaa and Marjorie Estiano are compelling. Clara, a self-assured nurse from the poorer suburbs, arrives to help take care of the expectant Ana who lives in the wealthy centre of the metropolis. She is amusingly materialist, but not in the way you might think; from the fridge full of vac-pack meats to the kitsch décor, there is an instant weirdness about her.
As the two women grow close, and the due date even closer, Clara discovers Ana’s secrets. That which is contained within her baby bump is nothing medically logical. Frankenstein’s monster arrives as does another change in gear. In terms of social commentary, it has something interesting to say about the roles of the Brazilian working class in bringing up the children, but that is slightly undermined by all the various directions it goes in.
We applaud Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas for their ambition with this project although at 135 minutes, a cleaner cut could have helped it along. Good Manners is a vehicle steered erratically from drama to horror to fairy-tale, but this is movie that needs a seatbelt.
CAST: Isabél Zuaa, Marjorie Estiano, Miguel Lobo, Cida Moreira
DIRECTORS: Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas
WRITERS: Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas
SYNOPSIS: Clara, a lonely nurse from the outskirts of São Paulo, is hired by mysterious and wealthy Ana as the nanny for her unborn child. The two women develop a strong bond, but a fateful night changes their plans.