SXSW Review: GOING TO BRAZIL Is A Female-Driven Blast
This summer, Hollywood is going to put out Rough Night, a film in which a group of ladies (including Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer and Jillian Bell) accidentally kill someone while partying and have a wacky time dealing with the consequences. And it’s kind of a bummer because, as good as Rough Night could end up being, it will take attention away from Going to Brazil, a fun French film that does something very similar.
Three friends, one a feisty chef with relationship problems, one a mousy schoolteacher and finally her little sister, a high schooler with anger issues, are invited to the wedding of an old friend who abandoned them for Brazil years ago. While they aren’t exactly thrilled to see this particular old pal again, who are they to say no to a free trip out of the country? So the ladies pack their bags and head to Brazil.
Once there, things go south quickly. At a big, sexy party filled with rich assholes, a would-be rape ends with the accidental death of their friends’ fiancé, a man who happens to have a very rich and powerful gangster/politician for a father. As you can probably expect, the rest of the film revolves around these ladies rescuing their pregnant friend from her father-in-law and getting back to France in one piece.
Character is key here more so than flashy execution. Going to Brazil doesn’t pull off many tricks that call attention to its filmmaking. It looks good, has wonderful pacing and pulls off a lot of great jokes over its running time (there is a SUPER great puking gag up in here), but it also sticks to basics.
At the end of the day, it’s all about these ladies and how they interact with each other, which is to the film’s benefit as they are all full and vibrant characters. Despite a situation that demands they stick together, all kinds of interesting conflicts and resentments brew between the four of them. Each has a defined personality, and all are well utilized throughout the plot, making the film feel satisfying and complete.
Going to Brazil doesn’t hit you over the head with themes, but it nevertheless makes a lot of solid and valuable digs at divisions between class and gender. Meanwhile, it never robs its four protagonists of their own agency. When the time comes for them to grab some guns and directly fight for their lives, it’s both rousing and earned.
There’s a lot happening in Going to Brazil, but at its core this is a fun adventure film about friends coming together and persisting against impossible odds. It never becomes the Andy Sidaris movie the above header image indicates. Not that that wouldn’t be fun in its own way, but Going to Brazil shoots for something way higher and hits its mark.