Fresh off bullish sales on Berlin Festival Grand Jury Prize winner “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,” sales company M-Appeal has just swooped on world rights to Brazilian Marcela Lordy’s “The Book of Delights” (“O Livro dos Praceres”) – part of a brace of first features from a new generation of young female Brazilian directors that is one of the most interesting new phenomena currently seen in Latin America movies.
Marking also the first fiction feature from Deborah Osborn’s bigBonsai, “The Book of Delights” is co-produced by Rizoma, a driving force of the New Argentine Cinema over the past two decades, creating straight arrow fest winners and more open movies on the arthouse side of mainstream.
The latter is the case of “The Book of Delights,” co-written by Lordy and Argentina’s Josefina Trotta whose writing credits include Martin Desalvo’s 2013 hit “Darkness by Day.”
“The Book of Delights” also adapts “An Apprenticeship or The Book of Pleasures,” a late novel by Clarice Lispector, one of Brazil’s greatest – though still largely unknown or underrated – modern novelists. Lispector’s playfulness plays throughout Lordy’s film, a contemporary love odyssey tracing the emotional journey of Lóri (Simone Spoladore), a woman who abandons her family house in rural Brazil to teach at a Rio de Janeiro school, inheriting her mother’s beach-side flat.
Seeking sexual satisfaction but emotionally dissatisfied by one night stands, she is drawn to Ulisses (Javier Drolas), a self-confident philosophy teacher at her school. But it’s Ulisses who awaits Lóri as she battles full-flown existential crisis and patriarchal mores.
Withdrawn, introspective, needing to square being with someone else and the fulfillment of her own desires, she hesitates about taking the the plunge with Ulisses and finding maybe a kind of happiness.
A “modern take on Lispector’s work,” M-Appeal said in a statement, the film offers “a strong lead female character, who drives a story of freedom and empowerment, a fascinating female gaze on the game of seduction and pleasure, an adventure of love and female fulfillment against a backdrop of a patriarchal society.”
Adapting the 1969 book for today “when we experience superfluous, liquid loves and no one else has the patience or the time for others anymore,” what caught her attention about Lispector’s story, Lordy said, is that “Lóri learns to live through the humanization of desires, where love is not a mere satisfaction of instincts.
“Bringing to the public the need to accept our own loneliness, understanding and respecting the individuality of others in order to live in communion, has been my great motivation,” she added.
“The Book of Delights” is lead produced by bigBonsai and Cinematográfica Marcela, Lordy’s own label, and co-produced by Rizoma, Rio-based República Pureza, and Canal Brasil, an independent Brazilian film and series channel which backed recent Berlinale Series standout “The Last Days of Gilda.”