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Special Jury Prize: As Boas Maneiras

Concorso internazionale

Special Jury Prize: As Boas Maneiras

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For their second joint feature film collaboration, Brazilian directors Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas return to the horror genre they had already explored in 2011’s Trabalhar Cansa (Hard Labor), using a similar jump-off point (a woman hiring a maid to help with the housework) only to then go in an unexpected, blood-drenched and thrilling direction with utmost confidence and determination. As Boas Maneiras (Good Manners) is a film whose duality (human vs. monster) is reflected in its twofold structure, before and after a crucial birth, with the split occurring fairly evenly halfway through the 135-minute running time. Adults and children alike give affecting performances as the difficulties of raising a young boy alone merge with the tropes of animalistic horror, specifically the werewolf subgenre. Expertly mixing suggestion and gore, with a laudable use of CGI that wouldn’t feel out of place in a big-budget Hollywood production, Dutra and Rojas deal with coming-of-age themes in a recognizable urban horror environment, showcasing a directorial maturity that fully justifies the award given to them by the Festival’s official jury. Walking the line between verisimilitude and full-blown supernatural madness, the duo sets a specific tone in the opening scenes and takes it all the way to the finish line, never once relenting in the name of “safe” filmmaking. It’s a new take on lycanthropy that is at once vaguely familiar and refreshingly surprising, with a final shot where sadness and exhilaration form a perfect marriage. Wherever they choose to go next, audiences and critics should follow with keen interest.

Max Borg
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