Eye For Film >> Movies >> Fabiana (2018) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Fabiana is in her late fifties, but as Indiana Jones said, it's not the years, it's the mileage. She has driven her truck back and forth across Brazil again and again over the span of three decades. Now she's ready for retirement, but what will that mean? Over the years she's had a girl in every town. She has friends everywhere she goes, but her life is spread out, scattered on little pockets across the country. Settling down in one place with one woman is going to be a big step.
Sharing her last few rides with documentarian Brunna Laboissière, Fabiana also shares her stories, her memories of a long life on the road. There's a lot of humour in there, mixed with a wistful melancholy. By night she chats to other drivers on the radio, sharing sexual gossip and affectionate tales about the people it relates to. Drifting through the darkness, she seems to be isolated from the rest of the world, connected only to this mysterious community, signals drifting in and out of range.
Fabiana is a trans woman but has only one sad tale to relate about that, the story of a relationship that broke down as a result. She's sanguine about it now. Nobody else seems to have an issue with her gender history. She is who she is. She has carved out a space for herself in this landscape, for the many ways in which she is unique. With most films about trans people's lives focused on suffering or tragedy, this is a marvellous antidote and a reminder that most people, most of the time, really don't care. Fabiana takes a drag on a cigarette, laughs her charismatic laugh. She has always lived on her own terms.
Extraordinarily intimate, sometimes to the point where one begins to question its ethics (no phone call seems to be off limits; it's not clear if the other parties know they're being recorded), the film unravels its protagonist's tale whilst taking us on a tour of hidden Brazil, of the small places that don't appear in tourist brochures or in feature films. We find ourselves inside workplaces and private homes, immersed in the small details of day to day life. Something about Fabiana makes everybody open up and talk as if the camera weren't there. The lives we connect with gradually blur together into a portrait of Brazilian culture with no polish, no sensationalism - just life in the raw.
Like a long car journey on quiet roads, this film acquires a rhythm that is almost hypnotic. Seasoned drivers, however, don't lose control. Whilst Laboissière got to control the edit, it's Fabiana's voice that lingers.Reviewed on: 20 Oct 2020