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BERLIN 2014 Competition

Futuro Beach, infinity in a gaze


- In this superb film which operates like a ground swell, Karim Aïnouz composes his shots in an unprecedented and loving way

Futuro Beach, infinity in a gaze

It's not easy to explain Futuro Beach [+see also:
film profile
, just like those witty jokes that attain such impalpable heights of humour that anyone who doesn't understand them right away will remain irreparably frustrated, while he who gets it really digs it. The film that Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz is presenting in competition in Berlin is one of these dazzling strokes of genius. It is a work that is unlike anything one has seen before and operates like a ground swell beneath the majestic surface of a perfect sea (the film actually begins and ends with roaring, that of motorbikes, initially aggressive, then regular and appeased).

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In between, impetuosity and calm strength, poignant saturated sound and profound silences succeed each other in alternation. Because it's all about disappearance and re-appearance. In the sea off the Brazilian town of Fortaleza, two young tourists are being swallowed up by huge waves, and Donato (Wagner Moura, the charismatic hero of Elite Squad), a life-guard (so naturally at home in the sea that his young brother Ayrton, terrified by the dangers of the ocean, calls him "Aquaman"), can only save one of them, Konrad (German actor Clemens Schick). The forcefulness of this first embrace between the two heroes battling the waves, facing death, immediately creates an imperious, indestructible bond between their bodies and souls, still palpable in the image after it has been acted upon, while the two young men are watching the infinite sea before them. So Donato does not hesitate to follow Konrad to Berlin.

The blend of captivating passion and total trust between the two men is reflected in the photography, at the same time utterly serene and though always active - in the sense that it is highly subjective. Aïnouz invents a fascinating new way of framing his shots: the horizon is always there, but the images are cut in unexpected and poetic places, not violently, but lovingly. The director doesn't use this technique to leave certain key elements out of the frame; the film's most beautiful elements are definitely within the frame, but they are invisible: one can only see them with the kind of indescribably tender gaze that Donato and Konrad share, without any words, even when their backs are turned to each other – in a breathtaking scene in which they no longer need to look at each other to be aware that the other one is there!

For young Ayrton (Jesuita Barbosa), however, too many years have passed without any news since his big brother left for Germany: he is now entirely possessed by his absence, a void so present that he crosses the ocean and wanders around a rather magical Berlin in search of Donato, for whom he has learnt German in case he has forgotten Portuguese. But Donato hasn't forgotten anything: he's still looking ahead, always ahead, but what he sees in front of him when Ayrton walks across a vast stretch of sand at low tide, when all the water has disappeared in the distance, is a little boy, a little boy in the midst of the sea who is no longer afraid of it. Despite the two very real disappearances which occur in Futuro Beach, appearing and disappearing do not ultimately have the meaning one may have thought: these two words only have any meaning through the eyes of someone who loves you.

When the film ends, one feels a presence, a presence that is perfect like an infinite road unfurling under the wheels of two motorbikes driving side by side, a presence resembling love. 

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