News from the Locarno Festival

Special Jury Prize: As Boas Maneiras

Concorso internazionale

Special Jury Prize: As Boas Maneiras



For their second joint feature film collaboration, Brazilian directors Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas return to the horror genre they had already explored in 2011’s Trabalhar Cansa (Hard Labor), using a similar jump-off point (a woman hiring a maid to help with the housework) only to then go in an unexpected, blood-drenched and thrilling direction with utmost confidence and determination. As Boas Maneiras (Good Manners) is a film whose duality (human vs. monster) is reflected in its twofold structure, before and after a crucial birth, with the split occurring fairly evenly halfway through the 135-minute running time. Adults and children alike give affecting performances as the difficulties of raising a young boy alone merge with the tropes of animalistic horror, specifically the werewolf subgenre. Expertly mixing suggestion and gore, with a laudable use of CGI that wouldn’t feel out of place in a big-budget Hollywood production, Dutra and Rojas deal with coming-of-age themes in a recognizable urban horror environment, showcasing a directorial maturity that fully justifies the award given to them by the Festival’s official jury. Walking the line between verisimilitude and full-blown supernatural madness, the duo sets a specific tone in the opening scenes and takes it all the way to the finish line, never once relenting in the name of “safe” filmmaking. It’s a new take on lycanthropy that is at once vaguely familiar and refreshingly surprising, with a final shot where sadness and exhilaration form a perfect marriage. Wherever they choose to go next, audiences and critics should follow with keen interest.

Max Borg

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