With echoes of Bye Bye Brazil, this engaging second film by Brazilian Gabriel Mascaro boasts great performances and a subtle sensitivity — a story driven by an emotional rather than rational logic at a solid and graceful pace that matches its elegant camera pans.
The film posits a tension buildup between the masculine and the feminine — that of the surly and rude animal world versus the delicate dream world of the protagonist and his funky neon bull — and a formal tension between long shots, that reveal the natural surroundings, and medium shots that reveal the passion of the characters without getting to close and personal.
This excellently achieved tension culminates with a magical night scene of a cattle auction, and two sex scenes, both heterosexual, filmed in long and medium shots respectively — the long and torrid sex scene with a pregnant woman exudes desire through the use of exquisite lighting and sound.
“One of the most fundamental things in cinema today is the relationship, the distance between the camera and the body,” Mascaro said in an interview with José Teodoro for Cinemascope magazine. “[In Boi neon] there are moments when the camera gets closer and is warmer, and in other moments it assumes the characteristics of machinery.”
Neon Bull was awarded at the Venice and Toronto film festivals. The film was most recently shown at the Guadalajara, México, and San Francisco film festivals. The Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York recently organized a retrospective of Mascaro’s oeuvre, ‘Gabriel Mascaro: Ebbs and Flows’, including the screening of his first film, Ventos de Agosto (2014), a documentary/fiction hybrid, and his previous work as visual artist.
Neon Bull will be shown daily in its original Portuguese version, subtitled to English, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco starting Friday 6 May. Tickets: http://www.roxie.com/ai1ec_event/neon-bull/