The Solace Of Ruins

***1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Solace Of Ruins
"Gabriela Lourenzato's film takes us along and at the close makes the allegorical actual."

I'm ever a fan of diegetic credits or anything of that ilk, and from the graffiti scrawl on the wall O Conforto Das Ruinas had me. Except it had already grabbed, from the bouncing handheld camera around the child crawling over someone interviewed for a vox pop. They speak of a person who's always attracting the big cars and the deep pockets, but we've smaller concerns.

Or, perhaps, larger ones. Contrasts abound. There's an argument between them. Someone is missing, and Madu will find them. Through thunderstorms and maps, alleyways shrouded in mist, the magic of the mundane through a child's eyes.

From far above the favela shows something like order, but regularity is soon replaced with something else. The red cloth might help if lost in the dust, the music box unburied intones a secret picked up by other instruments. The lines are blurry here, the neon wielding preacher seeks to cast the demons out. A stark red feast in the middle of the road heralds yet another change of tone and hue.

"Hold my hand and I'll take you there", and suddenly we do. The bright colours of laundry and the screaming wastes of the railyard. The hanging men of Babylon and the rainbowed corpses in the dry grass. A balancing act, one careful step before another, small hands scraping to plant staring seeds.

What can we read in sands washed flat by the coming tide? What can we hear between the warnings of the coming storm? Where have those feet been, what have they seen? What songs can we sing? What do you ask for when there is food on the table? What is once more buried, boxed, betrayed? We go together.

Gabriela Lourenzato's film takes us along and at the close makes the allegorical actual. Archive footage becomes the clue that unravels the labyrinth before. Eilen Silva and Tamirys Rodrigues as Madu and Menina may have been our Theseus, but our Minotaur is structural, political. Brazil is, if you will, the monster, but here our course is not just of black sails, but every colour of the rainbow. This is a magical piece of film-making, which leverages its inconsistencies and even naivetes to create something powerful, polemic.

Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2021
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Madu and her small assistant investigate the case of a woman who suddenly disappeared.

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