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The focus might have narrowed, but both films share the same obsession with class and memory, with Filho once again using intelligent sound design to allude to the world outside the frame – one teeming with anxiety and political anger.
The film is constructed entirely around Braga’s performance.
“Aquarius” follows the 65-year-old Brazilian widow Clara (Sonia Braga), a former music journalist who’s living out her retirement in the apartment complex where she grew up.
Clara pledges to stay in the apartment until she dies, but her plans become complicated when young real estate developer Diego (Humberto Carrão) tries to push her out of her home so that he can transform the forties-era building into a luxury condo.
Neighboring Sounds is a better movie, but this one has a heart.
Indeed, Kleber Mendonça Filho first introduces us to the Aquarius and to the apartment back when Clara was a young woman who’d recently battled breast cancer, a key detail her aunt brings up in the midst of a birthday celebration.It’s no surprise that when the young suit begins fighting dirty (renting out the apartment right above her for a loud orgy in hopes of making Clara feel even more unwelcome in the now empty building around her, for example), she fights back with a dignity that’s staggering.She plays her records loudly to drown out the noise; she invites a young male escort to help her pass the time; she sets out to paint the building's facade to keep it clean.Though the other residents have all vacated, Clara refuses to move, and thus begins a war of attrition between herself and her corporate enemies to see who will blink first. READ MORE: Cannes Review: Sonia Braga Gives a Brilliant Performance in ‘Aquarius’ The film is written and directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho.A former journalist and critic, Filho eventually transitioned into being a director, experimenting with a host of fiction and documentary styles and creating a series of shorts in the 2000s.