Reaching For The Moon

Pessimist meets optimist and falls in love in this story inspired by the real-life longterm relationship between uptight, melancholic American poet Elizabeth Bishop (Aussie actress Miranda Otto) and thrusting can-do Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires). Escaping from New York, Bishop travels to Brazil in 1951 to catch up with her old college pal Mary (Tracy Middendorf), then Soares’s live-in partner at her self-designed modern residence outside Rio. But lightning strikes, and a complicated triangular relationship emerges.

That forms the substance of this classy, grown-up drama: poet and architect both take creative and romantic sustenance from their ongoing affair, the latter realising the Pulitzer-winner’s fragile self-confidence and insistent boozing spring from a deeply traumatic childhood. Veteran Brazilian director Bruno Barreto gives the characters plenty of room to breathe, so drawing us into their gnarly conflict. Yet the film never works out how to generate genuine dramatic fire from its material. There are convincing performances and decorative retro detail to admire, but the heart needs to beat just that bit faster – and it doesn’t manage that.

Release details

Rated: 12
Release date: Friday April 18 2014
Duration: 114 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bruno Barreto
Cast: Miranda Otto
Glória Pires
Tracy Middendorf
Treat Williams

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Martin K

Reaching for the Moon, a film by the Brazilian director, Bruno Barrata, is an intelligent, un-histrionic portrait of the romantic relationship of Elizabeth Bishop, the prize-winning American poet, and a Brazilian architect, a woman of visionary and political skill. It is beautifully paced, intelligently portrayed and written, dealing with complicated and unorthodox (for the 1950s) relationships among a few of the most creative and important writers and artists of the 20th Century. The potential melodrama is maturely handled by an accomplished filmmaker, who shows the passion and anguish, but from an observer's distance, so that this viewer, anyway, was able to still focus attention on the roles of others' in relation to the main characters, ie. alcohol, Brazil, other relationships, the era...Despite the sunlight, the images of Rio, soccer mania, I found the film to be cool enough in temperature to make me think about both the commitments and fragility of relationships, profound and mundane (because of our humanness) at the same time. I really recommend this film as a parallel universe in the arts to the realities of our everyday loves, commitments, and passions.