Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Clarissa Campolina and Helvécio Marins Jr's life-affirming film Girimunho - the title of which means Swirl in translation - is a thoughtful and beautifully shot contemplation of ageing. Using non-professional actors, who Marins had grown to know over a period of years, the story concerning octogenarian Bastú, her friend Maria and Bastú's family - all playing close-to-reality versions of themselves - was based upon actual conversations that he had heard them have.

"Patience is very important," says one of them and it is also essential to enjoyment of the film, which is less about hitting narrative plot points and more about carefully documenting this matriarchal philosophy. Those looking for drama might be advised to steer clear, but for anyone willing to fall into the film's gentle ruminatory rhythm, it is a visual treat. Bastú is coming to terms with the death of her husband, whose blacksmith noises she still hears in his workshop, but hers is a matter-of-fact grieving process - "Time doesn't stop - it's us who stop." Bastú's considerations of life are engaging and her reflections thought-provoking, if not earth-shattering.

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The joy is to be found in the directors' exquisite visuals, with Ivo Lopes Araújo's cinematography revelling in texture and light. The spaces through which Bastú and her extended family move are beautiful in their own right and Campolina and Marins capture the action in ways that allow us to enjoy them to the full - sometimes using long takes and the full depth of the frame, at others closing in narrowly on a small detail so that we get to consider the fabric of a doorway or living space for moments before a character bustles in and out of the picture. The drum-beat inflected music by O Grivo gives an added resonance to a film which, though slow flowing, offers a vibrant portrait of matriarchal spirit.

Reviewed on: 20 Jul 2012
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Snapshot of the life of a widowed octogenarian.
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Director: Clarissa Campolina, Helvecio Marins Jr

Writer: Felipe Bragança

Starring: Maria Sebastiana Martins Álvaro, Maria da Conceição Gomes de Moura, Luciene Soares da Silva, Wanderson Soares da Silva

Year: 2011

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: Brazil, Spain


SSFF 2011
EIFF 2012

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