Winner of the Un Certain Regard award at this year's (2019) Cannes Film Festival, the latest feature from prolific Brazilian auteur Karim Aïnouz (Madame Satã
), set in mid-century Rio de Janeiro, is a sprawling melodrama about feminine resilience. Based on Martha Batalha's beloved novel, The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão
is Aïnouz's most accessible work even as it retains the unfettered sensuality and sumptuous splendour that render all his films so uniquely transporting.
The year is 1950. Classical piano prodigy Eurídice (Carol Duarte) dreams of studying at the Vienna Conservatory. Her sister, Guida (Julia Stockler), however, is the first of the siblings to make it to Europe, albeit fleetingly: after having eloped with a Greek sailor, Guida soon returns to Rio de Janeiro pregnant and alone, unbeknownst to Eurídice. Kept apart by a terrible lie, years pass as the two sisters forge their respective paths through their city's teeming bustle, each believing the other to be half a world away.
Complementing the seductively saturated hues of the cinematography by Hélène Louvart (Happy as Lazzaro
), the film's soundtrack features a soulful score from Benedikt Schiefer coupled with a poignant voiceover duet consisting of the sisters' misaddressed missives. Culminating in an affecting cameo from Oscar nominee Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station
), Aïnouz's stirring epic of winding paths that fail to intersect balances cruel ironies — the black sheep finds herself truly seen, while the ostensibly good daughter becomes invisible — with carnal abandon and tenacious love.