It’s difficult to remember a first feature as bullishly confident as this horror-tinged social melodrama from Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho. The opening credits alone make for a more riveting sequence than many filmmakers manage in their entire career: over a backdrop of clattering, building drums, we’re shown images of Brazil’s divided past: rich and poor families struggling to survive and make their mark on a new frontier. Cut to a swooping tracking shot of a little girl on rollerskates, and we’re away.
The film is set in the ocean-side middle-class suburb of Recife, where dwellings are split between well-off families and their servants. Most of the local houses and tower blocks are owned by Seu Francisco (WJ Solha) who, with his son, Joao (Gustavo Jahn), acts as a largely benevolent overlord in the neighbourhood. But when a series of burglaries set residents on edge, Francisco agrees to employ the services of security expert Cladoaldo (Irandhir Santos) and his gang of no-bullshit community patrolmen.
Essentially a bustling portrait of modern Brazil – with nods to past tragedies – ‘Neighbouring Sounds’ derives its power from Filho’s unusual directorial choices. Utilising techniques learned from horror movies – rumbling low-level noise, effective, unexpected shocks – he creates a sense of mounting dread and lurking evil. It doesn’t always work – the film promises a little more than it delivers, and at over two hours there are moments where it drags. But as a statement of intent, ‘Neighbouring Sounds’ is incredibly bold.
Cast and crew
Average User Rating
3.8 / 5
- 5 star:0
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
Filmed in the largest city of the Brazilian Northeast, this movie shows the relations of power and oppression are still present in nowadays wealthy Brazil. A brave portray of middle class families and characters that use their "small powers" to somewhat try to imitate the colonial past of the region. Using great shots and an ever increasing suspense soundtrack, the film allows Irandhir Santos to show all his talent, although I felt that 20 minutes less would make the duration just perfect. But that does not take away the wondrous work on Mendonça's debut feature-length, now one of the most promising latin american directors.