Kleber Mendonça Filho
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About the Movie
NEIGHBORING SOUNDS is the thrilling debut from Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonca Filho. On a quiet city block in the coastal city of Recife, ruled by an aging patriarch and his sons, a recent spate of petty crime has rattled the nerves of the well-to-do residents. When a mysterious security firm is brought in to watch over the neighborhood, it sparks the fears, anxieties and centuries-old grievances of a divided society still haunted by its past.
When watching this movie I have a great advantage over most of the other spectators: I grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb of Recife, quite like Neighboring Sounds’ director Kleber Mendonça Filho. The film describes how the spectrum of urban violence, a key determinant of social interactions throughout Brazil and Latin America, both divides and bonds people from different social classes and with contrasting histories, beliefs and interests.
This proximity with the ambiance where the story evolves allows me to connect the main argument of the film with some of its less-obvious scenes. For instance, the snapshots shown in the very start of the picture, depicting sugarcane workers (slaves until late 19th Century and since then poorly paid mestizos) and their families—how do they connect to the urban violence illustrated in neighboring sounds, truncated social relations and the agony of empty lives?
The main character is João, a thirty-something, socially conscientious, bored, rich kid, who earns a living as a real estate agent for his own grandfather, Sebastião. Sebastião inherited a sugarcane plantation and mill and was turned into urban baron after strong urbanization turned previously countryside land into expensive urban areas. His flats and houses are clustered in what nowadays is one of the town’s richest suburbs.
João seems somewhat tormented by the sentiment that he is a direct beneficiary of a past marked by brute violence—sugarcane plantations originally labored by slaves and later by poorly-paid workers and their families, land disputes settled by force, school and work opportunities defined by the color of your skin, and so on. He had once tried to escape it, and moved to Europe; but was brought back to live comfortably close to his family, to his neighborhood, and to the growls and barks, roars and cries, sirens and beats, hammerings and rumbling sounds. Not to mention the tense human relations.
Welcome to the New Brazilian Cinema. Very sophisticated script. Intelligent and great mood.
Very, very BORING Film!...
I've seen this film at the theaters in São Paulo, Brasil, last January. In film festivals in Brasil and some film festivals around the world this filmmaker is very well-known for his short films, besides being a film critic himself. As to "Neighboring Sounds", I didn't like the pace of it, it is so slow, almost nothing happens in this film. Ok, I understand what the filmmaker wants to show, but I want to see a film at the big screen, not a social analysis.