×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Three Marias

New Brazilian talent Aluizio Abranches follows up his sexy arthouse sleeper, "A Glass of Rage," with "The Three Marias," an equally fresh and offbeat tale of vendetta in Brazil's remote northeast. Here four revenge-bent femmes embrace the male code of violence. Pic is dramatically far more sure-footed and has the visual appeal to open a breach offshore, where the originality of new Brazilian cinema has so far been slow to catc

With:
With: Marieta Severo, Julia Lemmertz, Maria Luiza Mendonca, Luiza Mariani, Carlos Vereza, Henrique Diaz, Tuca Andrada, Wagner Moura.

New Brazilian talent Aluizio Abranches follows up his sexy arthouse sleeper, “A Glass of Rage,” with “The Three Marias,” an equally fresh and offbeat tale of vendetta in Brazil’s remote northeast. Here four revenge-bent femmes embrace the male code of violence. Though it lacks the startling sex scenes that helped broaden the audience for “Rage,” pic is dramatically far more sure-footed and has the visual appeal to open a breach offshore, where the originality of new Brazilian cinema has so far been slow to catch on. Critical support will prove key to that.

Story opens with a mysterious, unheard dialogue between a man and a woman standing under a giant rock, and without further explanation jumps to three brutally murdered men. Their disfigured corpses are pic’s only concession to gore, motivating the subsequent vendetta.

The corpses are the husband and two sons of Filomena Capodocio (stern stage thesp Marieta Severo), who calls her three adult daughters together and gives each the name of a ruthless but hard-to-hire killer. The three killers are to be hired to bring back the heads of their family’s murderers: The daughters are not to do the killing themselves, it is not their “destiny” as women.

It is as useless to argue about this reasoning as it is to question the logic of a Greek tragedy, which the mother’s dialogue deliberately recalls. In any case, the film sets up the problem of female participation in the taking of life on these terms and gets fairly good dramatic mileage out of it.

The age-old vendetta story gains from a contemporary setting as the women set off separately to carry out their missions. Maria Francisca (the earnest Julia Lemmertz) uses her feminine charms to persuade misogynist snake-eater Ze das Cobras (Henrique Diaz) to kill paterfamilias Firmino (Carlos Vereza).

Meanwhile, Maria Rosa (wild-eyed Maria Luiza Mendonca) pursues Capt. Tenorio (Tuca Andrada), an honest backwoods cop, and young Maria Pia (the hip Luiza Mariani) coolly busts the fearsome Devil’s Horse (Wagner Moura) out of jail, to dispose of Firmino’s ruthless sons.

Laid-back acting by Lemmertz, Mendonca and Mariani as the sisters leaves viewers free to draw their own philosophical conclusions, while the tragic dignity of Heitor Dhalia and Wilson Freire’s spare dialogue is never allowed to overpower the images.

The pleasing look of Brazilian neo-surrealism comes across in d.p. Marcelo Durst’s unsettling widescreen visuals. Production and costume design manage to convey an off-key atmosphere with the minimum of resources.

The Three Marias

Brazil-Italy

Production: A Teodora Film release (in Italy) of a Lama Filmes (Brazil)/Teodora Film (Italy) production. Produced by Aluizio Abranches, Eva Mariani. Directed by Aluizio Abranches. Screenplay, Heitor Dhalia, Wilson Freire.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Marcelo Durst; editors, Abranches, Karen Harley; music, Andre Abujamra; production-costume designer, Bruno Schmidt; sound (Dolby), Jose Moreau Louzeiro; associate producers, Vieri Razzini, Cesare Petrillo; assistant director, Janaina Guerra. Reviewed at Alcazar Cinema, Rome, Jan. 18, 2002. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Panorama.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Marieta Severo, Julia Lemmertz, Maria Luiza Mendonca, Luiza Mariani, Carlos Vereza, Henrique Diaz, Tuca Andrada, Wagner Moura.

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    John Singleton, the two-time Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as “mild.” According to TMZ, which first broke the news, [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content