Review: ‘Brainstorm’

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.

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.

Brainstorm

Brazil-Italy

Production

A Dezenove Som & Imagens (Brazil)/Fabrica Cinema (Italy) production, in association with Buriti Filmes, RioFilme Distribuidora. (International sales: Fabrica, Trevisio, Italy.) Produced by Sara Silveira, Marco Muller. Executive producers, Maria Ionescu, Fabiano Gullane. Directed by Lais Bodanzky. Screenplay, Luiz Bolognesi, based on the novel "Canto dos malditos" by Austregesilo Carrano Bueno.

Crew

Camera (color), Hugo Kovensky; editors, Jacopo Quadri, Letizia Caudullo; music, Andre Abujamra, Arnaldo Antunes; art director, Marcos Pedroso; costumes, Carolina Li. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 2, 2001. (Also in Montreal World Film Festival -- Latin American Cinema.) Original Portuguese title: Bicho de 7 cabecas. Portuguese dialogue. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Rodrigo Santoro, Othon Bastos, Cassia Kiss, Jairo Matos, Caco Ciocler, Luis Miranda, Valeria Alenca, Altair Lima, Linneu Dias.
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