A middle-class Sao Paulo youth undergoes a hellish detox in a mental asylum — and drags the audience with him — in “Brainstorm,” a first feature by Brazilian helmer Lais Bodanzky that won’t get much further than occasional festivals. Shot in an aggressive verite style and plastered with an intrusive rock score, pic is based on a novel inspired by the author’s own experiences.
Long-haired Neto (Rodrigo Santoro, lead in Walter Salles’ “Behind the Sun,” unspooling in Venice) is alienated from his stuffy family and hangs out with friends for drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. In despair, his father tricks him into entering a mental asylum, where he’s subjected to horrific treatment, including electroshock. Shot on Super-16 in an unattractive palette of cold, blue-green hues, pic does little to build sympathy for its protagonist or any of the other characters, and flashy visual effects for Neto’s mental dislocation add to the viewer’s own alienation.