Movie Review - Futuro Beach (Praia do Futuro)

Clemens Schick (left), Wagner Moura (center)
and Jesuíta Barbosa (right) in 'Praia do Futuro'
There isn't much of a narrative here. It's more or less a character study. It's a dual character study in some respects. It's about a Brazilian lifeguard and a German motorcycle racer. Chiefly, it's a romance between the Brazilian and the German. The two men fall in love. Their connection comes out of an extreme loss and pain. They comfort each other. They meet in the Brazilian's home town, but the German must return to his, so out of love, guilt or both, the Brazilian abandons all and goes to Berlin to be with the German. That decision eventually catches up with them and there is some kind of reckoning, but the meaning of it all remains somewhat nebulous.

Wagner Moura stars as Donato or "Doni," the Brazilian lifeguard who was or is a member of a military unit. His rank though is Private. He's referred to as Aquaman by his younger brother Ayrton who in the beginning looks like he's between 10 to 12 years-old. Donato doesn't see himself as Aquaman, this comic-book super hero, especially since his first action in the movie is losing a victim who eventually drowns and whose body is never found.

Clemens Schick co-stars as Konrad, the German motorcycle racer who was close friends with the drowning victim whom Donato loses. It's not long after he meets Donato that the two are having sex. Only one brief context clue suggests that either might be gay. We're just thrown into a homosexual act intensely.

This is fine. A lot of stories involving heterosexual characters will simply smash-cut to those characters having sex or being in bed. A short-hand is allowed because the assumption and acceptance of heterosexual characters has always been a thing. For director and co-writer Karim Aïnouz, it's good that he takes that short-hand with gay characters, but he and co-writer Felipe Bragança leave much to be desired.

Yes, we get to see the sexy flesh of these two men, including full-frontal nudity, but we never know who made the first move or what continues to connect them, beyond sharing the common tragedy. The weight of that tragedy bonds them together, but after a short while that tragedy is dismissed and never spoken of again. This wouldn't have been a problem, but Aïnouz gives the two men so little dialogue thereafter that most of everything has to be divined.

The film is told in three segments, utilizing what is considered a traditional, three-act structure. The first segment or first act is a great establishing of the two characters. The second and third parts complicate and possibly resolve things, but Aïnouz is so vague that it's never clear to what degree. Aïnouz sets each segment in a different season with some time differential, which sets them visually apart, particularly the third in which Moura is filmed so differently that you're not even sure it's Donato.

Jesuíta Barbosa plays the older version of Ayrton who goes to Berlin to find his brother Donato who abandoned Ayrton and his family. Ayrton's confrontation-turned-conversation with Donato is very well-done, but it doesn't build to a choice or any kind of indication of what will happen after the movie ends. Aïnouz drifts along with the older Ayrton and for no real reason.

Potential for conflict or drama is there, but it all fizzles out as Aïnouz meanders for the final twenty minutes or so. It finally closes with a big "So what?" There's some closing narration that's supposed to leave us with some point, but it's not enough. There really isn't a great or all-that compelling take-away.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains full-frontal nudity and intense sex scenes.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 46 mins.

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