A Wolf at the Door (O Lobo atras da Porta) played at the Lark Theater in Larkspur. It was Day Four of my coverage of the Mill Valley Film Festival. The date – October 5th.
Directed and written by Fernando Coimbra, this is his first feature film, and it has been garnering accolades. The film has taken awards at Guadalajara, Havana, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, and San Sebastian.
Per the IMDB –
A journey to the dark cutting edge of desires, lies and wickedness of a love triangle, from the moment a child is mysteriously kidnapped.at the school
The film opens with a mother facing her worst nightmare. Her six-year-old daughter has already been picked up at the school. The teacher released the child after taking a phone call from a woman who said she was the mother and would need to take the girl out of school earlier than usual.
Interviewed by the police, the mother denied making the call. What’s more, she said she had no idea who this Silvia is. The school teacher is interviewed, and her story stood up. A woman called, said she would pick up the girl Clarinha for the mother. What’s more, the child seemed to know the woman .
The father and husband are called in. He denies any knowledge of any Silvia which was true. Under pressured grilling by the police, the husband, Bernardo, said he was having an affair with a woman named Rosa.
Rosa is called in, and she had to admit to the affair – but she said she had no idea about the little girl. Of course the police would have no knowledge of the truth of what Rosa was saying = that is, until the school teacher ID’ed Rosa. That’s her. She’s the one who picked up Clarinha.
That’s your basic introduction to the film. The police have talked to Bernardo, Sylvia the wife, the teacher and the girl Rosa. Something’s off, but without Clarinha – nothing can be proven one way or another.
So what happened to these people?
This is what Coimbra is asking us to consider.
Of course, as the writer/director he already has the answers. And we can guess early on as to how we think the film will play out. What you can not see beforehand are the stylistic choices Coimbra makes to tell this tale.His chief specialty is lots of closeups and two shots.
He’s not going to wow us with directorial flourishes. Instead, you are right there, close enough to feel the raw emotions of the fear, desire, distrust, and more as the characters have been written. Beyond that, this is clearly a vehicle for the actors.
Coimbra utilizes long takes with little camera movement. In short he gives his cast plenty of room to let it all out. And, without a doubt, this is exactly what they do.
Bernardo is a real brute. He’s being portrayed by Milhelm Cortaz. He’s aptly cast right down to his huge teeth. He will lie, deceive, cheat – and that’s only for starters. Yes, he’s a bad boy, and for certain, his raw sexual appeal will be noticed by women looking for something extra.
Rosa is played by Leandra Leal. I think she steals the film away. She’s not a home wrecker, but she comes off as not so innocent as you’d like, yet she’s hardly a party girl.
Both Bernardo and Rosa have difficult roles to play. You can’t like either of them, based on the construct of the film, which uses a great deal of flashbacks. But for sure you can admire the performances. And you can admire Coimbra’s skills as he slowly and inexorably pulls us deeper and deeper into a story which gives very little in the way of relief. In short, there are no light spots, or scenes that allow you to catch your breath.
Rosa: Honey, for God’s sake, your marriage is over. Anybody can see that. Can’t you gives us a chance?
Bernardo: Are you crazy or something?
I think this film packs a real punch. You do not exit the theater light-hearted. In fact this film is a lot to deal with emotionally if you are watching. Be glad you are just watching as I can’t imagine ever being in either Bernardo’s or Rosa’s shoes.
Three point two five is the rating, and I think I can safely tell you that the film is not filled with either graphic violence or sex. Yet – this is exactly what the film is about.
Trailer with English subtitles is below: