Winner of the “Un Certain Regard Award” at Cannes 2019, “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao” is a film by Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz, well-known for Madame Sata (2002), which was nominated for the “Golden Camera” and “Un Certain Regard Award” at Cannes, as well as for “Suely in the Sky” (2006). Most of his films have received many awards in various festivals around the world. The film is partly based on the book of the same name by Martha Batlha published in 2016.
Through the tragic destiny of two sisters, Euridice (played by Carol Duarte) and Guida (played by Julia Stockler), “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmão” illustrates the ungrateful place that women had in Brazilian society in the 1950s.
A life under the yoke of the domination exercised by men, having to respond to their various desires. A life punctuated by repeated pregnancies resulting in an inability to build a sustainable professional project. In fact, pregnancies appear in the film more as a condemnation than as a blessing. Guida and Euridice grew up in a traditional Brazilian family. Guida’s unexpected departure for Greece with a sailor she has just met causes great shame for the patriarch, who disowns her on her return.
Following this event and the lie of their parent, the two sisters will never see each other again and will both lead an existence on their own. Karim Aïnouz tackles a very thorny subject for countries where religion is very anchored such as Brazil, abortion. Even today, abortion in Brazil is only allowed in cases of rape or other very special cases.
This Brazilian society of the 50’s presented in the film, deeply misogynistic, does not seem so far from today’s society, led by the infamous Jair Bolsonaro.
The first pregnancy of Euridice will not be desired. It will occur as a result of the actions of her husband who will do as he pleases despite the multiple prohibitions imposed by Euridice.
Following this pregnancy, she will see her hopes to integrate the conservatory of Vienna totally impossible. Throughout the film, the different sex scenes are painful to watch, since most of them look more like a rape than a sexual act between two consenting adults. Through this, Karim Aïnouz paints a rather interesting portrait of Euridice, a woman broken by a society in which she has nothing to say, crushed by social pressure, putrid traditionalism and by the destructive power of religion.
The story of these two sisters is told by Murilo Hauser, Inés Bortagaray and Karim Aïnouz, who, thanks to this well told story, deliver a well-paced film, where the actors shine with their talent and which will make the spectator go through different intense emotions. However, some will probably reproach the film to sometimes fall into miserabilism and melodrama, but the film knows how to remain sober in its entirety.
“The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao” is a very accessible film and a great success, which I hope will be able to participate in creating a discussion around the subject of abortion in Brazil as well as popularizing the Brazilian cinema to the public throughout the world.
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