with a minister’s wife is like asking for divine payback. The preacher might be a bit of an
environmental rabble-rouser, but the other man is still in for a heap of trouble,
albeit of a decidedly worldly variety, in Beto Brant & Renato Ciasca’s I’d Receive the Worst News from Your
Beautiful Lips (trailer
screens as part of the 2012 Premiere Brazil!, now running at MoMA.
provincial Amazonia, there is not much to do besides clear-cutting rainforest
and having illicit affairs. Two hot-blooded
outsiders like Cauby and Lavinia are better suited to the latter. He is a photographer wandering the region, picking
up freelance gigs taking mug-shots and snooping through keyholes for the local
scandal sheet. She is the wife of
tree-hugging Christian Ernani. Though
she desires her fevered assignations with the increasingly obsessed Cauby, she
still feels affection and a debt of gratitude to her ardent but somewhat older
husband. Secrecy is therefore important,
but there is nothing harder to maintain in a small town.
Lips (if ever a title
merited abbreviation, if would be Brant and Ciasca’s adaptation of Marçal
Aquino’s novel) changes genres faster than the Amazonian weather turns. It starts out like a Brazilian Red Shoe Diary, segues into a Body Heat noir thriller, finally ending
with melodrama worthy of a telenovela.
It is actually reasonably competent observing the conventions of all
three, but only truly masters the softcore eroticism of the first act.
Lips is definitely a film for those
who appreciate a relatively classy looking love scene. However, the sympathetic portrayal of the Evangelical
Ernani is a pleasant surprise, regardless of his outspokenly green
sermons. There is nothing hypocritical
or unseemly about him. In fact, he
emerges as an almost saintly figure in the film’s distracting flashback scenes.
Cauby and Lavinia, Gustavo Machado and Camila Pitanga are perfectly credible throwing
themselves at each other and are more or less passable as the film progresses
into darker territory. Arguably, ZéCarlos
Machado’s work as Ernani is the film’s most nuanced and intriguing, but there
are also several small but colorful supporting performances that give Lips character.
Of course, setting looms large in Lips.
Viewers can just feel the humid sultriness as Cauby and Lavinia commune with nature or prowl through
their nocturnal world. Cinematographer Lula
Araújo gives it all a silky sheen appropriate to the over-the-top on-screen
passion. While Lips’ final act is an extended let down, the entire film is
certainly evocative and never really dull.
A visually appealing production, Lips should fit the bill for those who
enjoy steamy cinema with a veneer of art-house sophistication. Obviously not for general audiences, Lips screens tomorrow (7/15) and
Tuesday, July 24th, as this year’s Premiere Brazil! continues at
MoMA. Viewer discretion is advised.
Labels: Brazilian Cinema, Infidelity movies, Premiere Brazil '12