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Casa Grande

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by David S Robert

1 word of the day: Family

I’m very sure many of you have heard about this film and some of you had a privilege to watch this funny, thought provoking and coming of age Brazilian movie by Fellipe Barbosa either at a film festival or at a private screening. Barbosa is known for making films inspired from his real life experiences and characters and he does it again with CASA GRANDE.

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Barbosa revisits his own life while he was growing up in his wealthy father’s house in Brazil . He courageous webs the stories inspired from the real events that took place in his own family and brilliantly weaves it with fiction to keep it interesting. He even shot the film in his father’s bungalow, which is beautiful piece of architecture.

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Casa Grande tells us a story about this wealthy Brazilian family’s breakdown. Hugo (Marcello Novaes) and wife Sonia (Suzana Pires) seem to have a perfect life, with son Jean (Thales Cavalcanti), daughter Nathalie (Alice Melo), plus live-in housekeeper Rita (Clarissa Pinheiro), maid Noemia (Marilia Coelho) and driver/handyman Severino (Gentil Cordeiro) but all this is really not true.

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While both Hugo and Sonia culturally identify themselves as the upper class European, Jean on the other hand doesn’t mind hanging out with his driver Severino and maid Rita. He sees Severino as a friend and Rita becomes an outlet for his randiness. But due to economic crisis, Hugo fires Severino and Jean’s only option is the bus to school where he meets Luiza (Bruna Amaya). Soon they develop liking for each other. Back in school, Jean is confronted with the debate on quotas, a topic that is not so important to him. Barbosa handles this controversial subject matter delicately yet profoundly using Luiza voice who doesn’t miss an opportunity to lecture his family’s friends about the need for it. This comes to a stark contrast as we notice unlike Jean, his parents don’t really exchange empathy freely with racially diverse servants whose personal lives are of no interest.

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I only wish there was more to Nathalie’s role. But she is the only eyes in the house watching everyone. Even she has her own dark side. And this is the beauty of this film that every character has stark two sides. Barbosa and Sztajnberg’s writing is brilliant and Barbosa splendidly captures the dynamics of class inside and outside Jean’s home using great sense of humor and empathy by creating thought provoking situations.

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Technically the film is really good. The camera beautifully captures the breathtaking scenic locations. It makes you feel like you’re actually breathing. The sound design and the background music become one more character. Even the minute details like the sound of a car indicator can be distinctly heard. A pat on the back of every technician. Last but not the least, the actors breath life into these simple looking yet complex characters. They all fit together like a perfect jig-saw puzzle.

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Thales Cavalcanti is a very talented singer and songwriter. Bruna Amaya, is absolute treat. Clarissa Pinheiro steals a part of you with her free spirited portrayal of the character Rita. Alice Melo is very sassy and sensual as the mysterious Nathalie. Marcello Novaes, who is known to play casanova’ish characters in the TV is bound to get noticed by the film studio execs after his mature role Casa Grande. Suzana Pires again delivers a subtle yet profound performance. The supporting cast Marilia Coelho, Gentil Cordeiro and other significantly insignificant actors fit perfectly in their characters.

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The movie however ends with a very interesting scene. There are no words spoken here. You will see Jean transform into a Man. The classic climax shot also became the face of the Key Art design for the theatrical posters.

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Casa Grande hits the screens in Brazil today, April 16 2015.

So, if you already heard about this movie and wondered if you should take time out to watch, then I strongly recommend you do. It’s a treat for your eyes, mind and heart which I promise will work on evolving your soul. A must watch.