An exhilarating comedy about Brazilians in love, “Breaking Up” takes the viewer on a trip through an extraordinarily open culture, where relationships come and go like breaking waves and emotions are always over the top. Director Domingos De Oliveira, who stars with co-scripter Priscila Rozembaum, took home both best film and best actor prize at the last Mar Del Plata festival. Pic is worth a look for exotica distribs, the only caveat being its non-stop dialogue that requires auds to spend so much time reading subtitles they barely have time to look at the film.
De Oliveira, himself a theater director, plays Cabral, a stage helmer in his mid-50s who lovably wears his heart on his sleeve while trying to manipulate everyone else. He jeopardizes relations with Glorinha (Rozembaum), his 35-year-old fifth wife, by suggesting they regain a sense of “freedom” by taking a few days off each week on their own.
She proposes a trial separation instead, which pushes Cabral into a sea of despair, especially when she falls for the handsome Diogo (Fabio Junqueira). Interwoven are the brief liaisons of their friends, who switch partners at the drop of a hat.
The story proceeds swiftly, keeping pace with the rapid-fire dialogue. Humorously, the film is organized into the five categories Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified as characteristic of patients with terminal illnesses (here applied to love): denial, negotiation, anger, acceptance and grace. Ending is exuberant and life-affirming.
Setting the tale in the world of Rio de Janeiro theater makes it easier to swallow, and allows De Oliveira to concentrate on actors’ perfs, which can reach quite deep even when their feelings seem exaggerated. (Cabral accurately diagnoses his problem as “an overdose of love.”) Memorable scenes include Cabral hysterically facing rival Diogo on the street, and the final, touching confrontation between him and Glorinha, who has gone to Paris to (unsuccessfully) forget him.
Technical work is clearly not the film’s priority, but lenser Paulo Violeta gives the actors the space they need to carry each scene.