Adrift [a Deriva] Movie Review
In 1980s Brazil, struggling author Mathias (Cassel) is on a beach holiday with his wife Clarice (Bloch) and their three children. The eldest, 14-year-old Filipa (Neiva), isn't quite aware of the tension between her parents, so when she discovers that her beloved dad is having an affair with an American woman (Belle), she's furious. She of course feels much more grown-up than she is. And while trying to figure out how to confront her father, she starts flirting with Artur (Passi), who clearly loves her, and other men too.
The film's early section is a fascinating mix of gorgeous beaches, tanned skin and a realistically tight family underscored with honest pain. But when things start turning serious, the plot begins to collapse, starting with the discovery of a gun, perhaps cinema's most overused plot device. Not to mention the fact that these people simply refuse to actually communicate. What follows feels increasingly like a thriller as there's a murder on the beach and Filipa plots against her father. Things also heat up with both Artur and a hunky barman (Reymond).
This is a story about how children can't possibly understand the subtleties of an adult world, and Dhalia lays this on a bit thickly as the film progresses.
Fortunately he also fills each scene with earthy realism as these teens start tapping into urges they haven't a clue how to control. At the centre is a collision of love, respect and hate - three emotions that often cause the same effect. But is it true that children can't understand these things?
What makes this film gripping is the complexity of these emotions. Whether they ring true or not, it's thoroughly compelling to watch. Cassel is as effortlessly excellent as always, quietly showing that Mathias isn't nearly as in control as he thinks he is. Meanwhile, Neiva delivers a remarkably transparent debut performance. And ultimately the real message is that these things feel like the end of the world to us. But they're not.