Brazil, 2009, 103 minutes, Colour.
Laura Neiva, Vincent Cassell, Debora Bloch, Camilla Belle.
Directed by Heitor Dhalia.
A De Riva is a story about a coming-of-age, a fourteen-year-old girl played very well and intensely by Laura Neiva. It is also the story of a family coming apart. The parents are played by French actor Vincent Cassell and Brazilian actress Debora Bloch. There are two other children in the family, younger.
The setting is a holiday on the Brazilian coast. The father is writing, the mother is drinking, there is love and tension, ultimately some hatred and the decision of the mother to leave the family. The father is also conducting an affair with an American visitor and fan (played by Camilla Belle).
While the film focuses on the parents, the emotional centre of the film is on the daughter, Filipa. She is an imperious young girl, totally controlling. However, with the revelation about her father, her spying on her father and his girlfriend, her concern about her mother and her drinking, her whimsical behaviour towards the boys in the holiday group, she seems much less focused than she might have thought. As the crisis develops, she gives way to drinking, going off with the man from the bar, imitating her parents while attempting to defy them.
The film opens in water, the father helping his daughter to float – and the film ends in the same way, offering some temporary resolution. In fact, the title of the film indicates a lack of control, even an undertow which drags people out into the deep. The theme of water pervades the film.
The film is made in international style and was made for international distribution as well as for Brazilian release.
1.A coming-of-age film? A family coming apart?
2.The title, the reference to control, the suggestion of the undertow? Thematic in Filipa’s control of people? Loss of control? The swimming and the images of water and undertow?
3.Brazil, the beach, coast, holiday atmosphere, the rocks and the cliffs, the town, the homes, the clubs? The score?
4.The international cast?
5.The water, the opening and closing with father and daughter, swimming, floating? Scenes at the beach, swimming, underwater, holding breath? Filipa’s escape from the boat and swimming ashore?
6.The themes and the father and daughter, the opening, dependence, love, support?
7.The family, years of marriage, on holidays? Matias as a writer, at work, the issue of the sale of his rights for film? The children and their bonds? Clarice? The affair, Angela, deceit? Clarice and her drinking, love for her children, her weeping?
8.The children: Antonio, young, boyish, the party, fights? Fernanda, her age, following her sister?
9.Filipa at fourteen, intense, loving her family, her self-image? With boys, the range of bikinis, displaying, control, moody? With Arturo, off and on, summoning him, at the end forgiving him? The games, Spin the Bottle, the group enjoying the holiday in a pack, their talk, activities at the beach?
10.The parents, the photos, Clarice and her drinking, the visits to the bar, Filipa getting her the whisky? Matias, devotion to his children? Filipa and her following him, spying on him and Angela? Seeing him with Angela, inviting Arturo to watch? Meeting Angela, spying, the stain on the dress, the possible friendship, Filipa seeing Angela with the man from the bar, the clash? Her mother leaving to work? Return? The announcement of the separation, facing the truth, the mother and her going with the young man? Filipa’s reaction, going to the bar, demanding the whisky, the man from the bar, the sexual encounter, swimming ashore? Arturo and the final whims? The man who picked her up and her misunderstanding, swimming ashore? The effect of the experience, her mother going, her father staying?
11.The character of Matias, as a writer, his affairs, dependence on Clarice, telling her story to the friends, Angela, the fights with Clarice, Matias and his searching for Filipa, the accident, asking the neighbours, going to the beach, finding her swimming ashore?
12.Clarice, the truth about her relationships, her drinking, her children, telling them the truth, leaving?
13.Angela, American, holidays, fan, the affair, the relationship with the man from the bar? Attempted friendship with Filipa?
14.Arturo, the boys, Filipa and her treatment of Arturo?
15.Themes of relationships, family, learning through hard experience?