I've had a passing fascination for Elis Regina for many years and was very surprised to see this film advertised on Amazon Prime Video as I had not heard anything about it. I immediately assumed it was a documentary because of its lack of promotion in Europe, so you could imagine my surprise when I started playing it and saw a list of actors in the opening credits.
I think the reason why this movie did not resonate too well outside of Brazil is because it was not written for a global audience. The film made too many assumptions: firstly, that you are familiar with Elis' recordings and secondly you were bought up knowing a lot about the Brazilian music industry. Perhaps even more vitally, it made the assumption that everybody is aware of the brutality that occurred during the dictatorship. This, I believe, made the film inaccessible to the world.
Andréia Horta, in my humble opinion, gave an absolutely stunning performance capturing a lot of the essence of Elis Regina that I had seen in her performances and her interviews but, something was badly paced in the actual storytelling. The film either needed to be (at least) another 30 minutes longer or it needed to spread the story more evenly over the course of her years under the spotlight. Up until her television performances, I feel the director got the story right. After that, it was like a needle skating across a record. First a child and then three as if by magic.
This wasn't the main problem for me, though. Again, the movie made the assumption that the audience would immediately know in which year the events were occurring. I found it difficult to know whether the story was still in the mid seventies or the early 80s.
I also have a feeling that the story of her involvement with drugs wasn't properly told. One minute she was trying peyote and the next, we are to suspect that she died of some sort of drug overdose despite saying that music and her children were the most important things in her life.
I could watch this movie again just to enjoy Adréia Horta's performance once more (the support cast were also wonderfully portrayed), but I will end up with the same sense of unfulfillment.
I don't think you needed to be a Ray Charles fan to have enjoyed his biopic and to have felt that you got to know him not only as a singer but as a person as well, but this movie left me with more questions than answers.
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