Director: Pompeu Aguiar
Screenplay: Pompeu Aguiar and Paulo Coriolano
Executive Producer: Ana Cristina Sauwen and Pompeu Aguiar
Director of Photography: Antonio Luiz Mendes
Cast: Dedina Bernardelli, Alexandre Borges, Priscilla Rozenbaum

016Pompeu Aguiar, producer/director of Adagio Sostenuto just won the award for writing the best screenplay at the inagural Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival. He says that his new film, an urban movie, is part of the “cinema of resistence”—a movement to protect and develop real cinema, which “comes from opera.” “Cinema derives from Wagner,” he says, adding that it is not about story but about melodrama and essentially depends on music. Aguiar adds that he goes to the opera to watch cinema. He calls his film a chamber opera. He studied music for many years. “The film is in sonata form,” he says. It is carefully constructed and the music and dialog came first, making sure that the dialog corresponded exactly with the music.

The experience of watching Adagio Sostenuto is remarkably like being at an opera. The rich visual experience is admirably achieved by Antonio Luis Mendez. Included in the film are two Vermeer and two Rembrandt paintings which go along with the beautiful music by Listz, Debussy, Beethoven, Shubert, and Cohen. The music brings emotional needs to be expressed by the actors and the acting equally makes demands on the music.

The film shows many war scenes from Okinawa. These scenes have an analogy with the violence in Rio de Janeiro. The story of the film concerns a middle class intellectual couple (Anna Maria and Jose Borges) who are very much in love, but Jose is killed when he stops at a red light on New Year’s eve. He is shot during a robbery.

The opening scene of the movie is startling: it depicts a sun within a galaxy of stars—a celestial moment of great impact. Aguiar says that this scene was computer generated. Throughout the film, the photography is stunning. One scene on the beach shows waves coming onto shore and rippling back and forth in perfect time with the music. Later, a stately home set in front of a lake and reflected in the water, is equally beautiful and depicts the mood of the music. A particular scene when Anna Maria is taking a shower and behind a glass wall is subtly filmed. She is crying behind the glass and one hears the water from the shower.

The entire movie is fascinating because the story gets involved with love and violence and art , and is reinforced by the music. The film shows the suffering and chaotic thinking of a woman who has lost her husband whom she loved so much. The situation of this newly widowed intellectual is vividly presented—she lives in stark contrast to the violence and the threatening world around her. She is a cinema director who doesn’t accept her husband’s death ( a screenwriter) because she was not prepared for it. He died suddenly. The film they were making concerned two older retired history professors whose lives are winnowing out. The setting is an isolated beach. The historians are tired of living their diminished lives and are prepared for death. Anna Maria continues the film and finishes it. She wants to kill herself because she thinks if she does, she will meet Jose again. In the most tense moment of the film, Anna Maria puts a gun to her head, but doesn’t have the courage to pull the trigger. This case shows reality in Rio de Janiero because many people have been killed by thieves on the streets and by random bullets. This violence threatens the rich, interior life of creative people who become victims.

Dedina Bernardelli (Anna Maria), the female lead, is perfect. She shows the woman’s misery in innumerable ways. In one scene she cries from first one eye, then the other, with both eyes open. Also she suffers because she postponed a trip to the islands that her husband wished for. Again and again she realistically depicts Anna Maria’s sorrow and her distraught thinking..

The film is different and brings a new idea about movies. The way the scenes are filmed, how the scenes are related and how they mix with music is unusual. The movie is particularly attractive because it shows the story of eternal love and transmits the importance of the union between a couple.

Aguiar directs with an individuality that demands attention and patience from the audience, but gives them a forceful reward. The film has a loud beauty while being difficult and demanding. The message is strong; the music is wonderful, the abstract coherence is remarkable. The scenes are very organized. Aguiar is to be complimented for creating an impressive film that stands out in its own way. We are waiting for the next one.

by Eduardo Correia and James White

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