Mars One

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Mars One
"Essentially an old fashioned tale in which the pursuit of dreams needs to be balanced by learning to appreciate what one has." | Photo: Courtesy of Inside Out

The 2018 presidential election in Brazil sent shockwaves around the world. It was particularly worrying for minority communities in Brazil: for the likes of Eunice (Camilla Damião), a young woman just getting into her first serious same sex relationship. Whilst it would be devastating for some indigenous tribes, however, most of the urban poor carried on as normal. The shadow of that election hangs heavy over this film. It’s paralleled by an early scene in which housekeeper and family matriarch Tércia (Rejane Faria) is caught up in a bomb scare which turns out to be part of a TV prank show. Everything is alright, she is reassured, and he family laugh at her for being so scared, but she can’t shake the nervous feeling it has left her with.

Tércia is Eunice’s mother; she’s married to Wellington (Carlos Francisco), a caretaker who is four years sober and continually striving to better their fortunes. He has pinned a lot of his hopes on their young son Deivinho (Cicero Lucas) who has a fair bit of talent on the football field, but Deivinho isn’t really interested in sport – he’s the most ambitious of them all, taking every opportunity to study astronomy, dreaming of one day joining a manned mission to Mars. In scenes which might remind viewers of the recent Ghostbusters: Afterlife, he takes inspiration from his deceased grandfather, who has left behind a box of treasures which suggest that other ways of living are possible.

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Nobody in this family understands what’s going on with anybody else. What will happen when they figure it out? That’s the weight hanging over all the drama on display, blunting some of its more interesting facets. There’s only so much mileage in a father’s longing to be a better provider, a mother’s wish that people would notice her feelings, but although Faria sometimes shifts into high gear at the wrong moments, the performances are generally strong. Eunice’s story is more delicately handled and there are some touching moments between her and Deivinho, as writer/director Gabriel Martins explores the tension between generations and she steps in to provide the support that their parents can’t.

Also present, of course, is the pressure of class, with the adults’ jobs making them continually aware of how much easier other people’s lives are than their own. Whilst Tércia is on friendly terms with her employer, she’s constantly aware of the gulf between them in terms of opportunity – something he seems to miss. As far as her expectations of travel are concerned, there’s little difference between Europe and Mars. This isn’t poverty porn, however. Though there are financial struggles from time to time, her family is not doing badly compared to most Brazilians. It’s clear early on in the film that this is essentially an old fashioned tale in which the pursuit of dreams needs to be balanced by learning to appreciate what one has.

A curious choice to open 2022’s Inside Out festival, this is not the strongest film in the line-up, but it’s a family drama which will resonate with many viewers. Whilst it may too often fall back on formula, there’s a positive spirit underlying it which we see too little of in tales of this kind.

Reviewed on: 29 May 2022
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In Brazil, a lower-middle-class Black family of four tries to keep their spirits up and their dreams going in the months that follow the election of a right-wing president, a man who represents everything they are not.

Director: Gabriel Martins

Writer: Gabriel Martins

Starring: Rejane Faria, Carlos Francisco, Camilla Souza, Cícero Lucas

Year: 2022

Country: Brazil


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