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Thread: A WOLF AT THE DOOR (Fernando Coimbra 2013)

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    A WOLF AT THE DOOR (Fernando Coimbra 2013)

    Fernando Coimbra: A Wolf at the Door (2013)


    LEANDRA LEAL AND MILHEM CORTAZ IN A WOLF AT THE DOOR

    Twisted adulterous passion in Rio

    Brazilian first-timer Fernando Coimbra's A Wolf at the Door, now belatedly and sparsely released in the US, begins as a police procedural, but then turns into an immersion in an inflamed criminal mind worthy of Patricia Highsmith. It's also saturated with a vibrant, tropical noir spirit and is a story of adulterous passion whose dangerous excess suddenly accelerates.

    Not everything is perfect about Wolf, but some things are so great that for fans of this kind of movie I can unhesitatingly recommend it. The police procedural part seems bungled, or, for some, may just be too quickly abandoned. Clara, a six-year-old girl, has been picked up from school by a woman supposed to be acting for her mother. It's a child abduction. Sylvia (Fabiula Nascimento), the mother, finds out in the frantic opening scene by visiting the school. The school principal is helpless: there's a sense of disorder and confusion.

    This continues when father and mother are questioned at police headquarters by a handsome, bearded detective who quickly, maybe too quickly, zeros in on the fact that the husband, Bernardo (Milhem Cortaz) has been having an adulterous affair with a certain Rosa (an exceptional Leandra Leal), who is brought in. Nothing is clear. These early scenes are tense and hysterical but unfocused.

    Much different from what follows when, threatened by the detective, Rosa begins to tell the whole story, which becomes the rest of the movie. The noirish authenticity, the vivid life and classic tropes (even with an underpinning of Greek tragedy) jump off the screen without any alienating Hollywood slickness. The wonderfully framed images by dp Lula Carvalho of anonymous working class Rio interiors and streets, with a specificity that makes the tacky beautiful and sexy, enhance the marvelous scenes showing Bernardo and Rosa's first meetings and first lovemaking sessions. Impossible to forget their flirtatious encounter on the station platform and their first drink in his friend's loaned flat, the way he drops a glass and they're too hot to even notice. And the way in all the encounters Lula Carvalho delicately crafts the light and the faces. (The sound design by Cutz / Vampiro is notable too; and the closing credits are cool.)

    He has to have a car; it's a little yellow convertible, and it's not new. On that platform Rosa says it's okay that it's not, and smells of gasoline. She likes the smell of gasoline. Leandra Leal is fresh, young, and pretty (but not too movie-star pretty). Milhem Cortaz is older, his teeth stick out too far. He's a bus manager, but he's nothing special. But here and now, in these scenes, he is. There's a muscularity, a macho energy, about him that makes him sexy and desirable for Rosa.

    These are only the beginnings, but the intensity of an affair has rarely been so convincing. What comes after will be sick and devious and surprisingly, appallingly cruel on both sides. It will shock, be "tawdry" but also a "knife to the gut," as Stephen Holden reluctantly acknowledged in theTimes. To respect the essentiality of the surprises, we can't discuss how things go when they go wrong. But the web is certainly tangled and incestuous, we can say that. Actually, events may be known to the Brazilian audience, since they are based on the famous 1960 case of Neide Maria Maia Lopes, known as “The Beast Of Penha." But according to Mike D'Angelo inThe Dissolve some key plot details that explain Rosa's behavior were added by Coimbra. He has turned this into a hell of a story.

    A Wolf at the Door/O Lobo atrás da Porta, 100 mins., debuted at Toronto, also San Sebastián Sept. 2013 and other festivals in 2014 including SXSW and Miami, winning at least four awards, including Best Film and Actress at 2013 Rio de Janeiro Film Festival 2013. Distributed by Strand Releasing in the US, it began showing in the US 26 March 2015 and opened at the Roxie Theatre San Francisco and Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael 17 July. Strand brings out a DVD of the film 25 August 2015.

    (Coimbra recently shot two episodes of Netflix's original Pablo Escobar crime series "Narcos," airing in Aug. 2015.)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-30-2015 at 01:05 PM.

  2. #2
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    Strand Releasing has announced its US DVD of A WOLF AT THE DOOR comes out 25 Aug. 2014. Please note. For those with a taste for neo-noir with a Latin twist this is a don't miss film and now you will be able to see it.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-30-2015 at 01:10 PM.

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