Neighboring Sounds Screen 14 articles

Neighboring Sounds


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  • For all its sly pleasures, I found myself wishing that Neighboring Sounds could shed some of its determinism, and give us a vision of not only where Brazilian society has come from, but also where it's going.

  • Immaculately directed, kaleidoscopic portrait of a single Brazilian block, juggling several tenuously related narratives with deft assurance. Hits its sociopolitical subtext a tad hard for my taste, especially vis-à-vis the resolution of the neighborhood-watch storyline—I appreciated anew how subtly Martel addressed roughly the same systemic issue in The Headless Woman—but Mendonça Filho's talent is unmistakable.

  • Early on, Filho cuts from a cluster of skyscrapers to a similar formation of empty beer bottles on a glass table. The move is typical of the force and economy of his filmmaking. In just a couple of brief shots, Filho telegraphs the tenants’ (suspiciously active) panic that their high-rise citadels are in fact much less impenetrable than they appear.

  • Filho’s anxiety-inducing formal control is in full force throughout this multicharacter narrative, which interweaves nearly a dozen principals. Stories alternate from deadpan comic to the intriguingly cryptic. Yet Filho so completely calculates his causes and effects, even going so far as to have the villain of the piece literally swimming with sharks, that you never fully feel the senses-altering charge of a truly impassioned polemic.

  • An arresting, energetically oblique debut. A tightening of the two-hour-plus running time might have enhanced the balance between Filho's epic, evocative style and his smaller story about a certain mode of modern life, its lonely confrontations, and the stubborn legacies of the past.

  • Plays almost like a paint-by-numbers regional art film, with kneejerk classism, Great Master shots and intentionally oblique drama.

  • It has a stylistic verve, married to a tangle of popular genres, that reminded me irresistibly of Paul Thomas Anderson at his best. Director Kleber Mendonça Filho has, precociously (after a bunch of acclaimed shorts), that exhibitionistic-virtuosic streak which many young and/or aspiring filmmakers inherit (not always with happy results) from Kubrick: everything builds to crescendos, clinches, big scenes, slam-bang fusions of tight suspense and thundering music.

  • In Neighboring Sounds, [Mendonça] builds soundscapes not with pulverizing sonic waves but with a dog's insistent bark, the faraway chatter of children playing, the sudden crash of cars at an intersection.

  • Tries a bit too hard in the third act (sound cutting out in the birthday party, etc), but still an ambitious film with a near-unique sensibility - maybe something like the Desplechin of A Christmas Tale, with ghosts lurking everywhere, made explicit in mention of a woman who recently killed herself.

  • Filho has an eagle’s eye for the irony of how wealth confines the wealthy, and how class relationships manifest as equal parts love and fear. Everything feels spontaneous, without feeling random or glibly ironic. In its last quarter, Neighboring Sounds waltzes into more dread-filled regions, haunted by history. Blandly inapt title aside, the film’s balance between generosity and menace may well be unique.

  • The opening question that guides the film is: how to portray a state of violent relationships in which the dominant mode is that of the unsaid? – Especially, in a period when the idea of social rising that Lula’s government created in many parts of our middle class a sense of withdrawing. Given such a problem, Kleber Mendonça Filho finds images that manage to surprise exactly because they reveal themselves charged at same time with a strong symbolic power and an unexpected casualness.

  • Kleber Mendonça Filho’s extraordinary debut featureNeighbouring Sounds could be described as a ‘jazz movie’ in that it insouciantly rejects cosy linearity in order to peruse its central theme of urban alienation in various exciting, innovative and unexpected ways. It’s a disorienting, pastel-hued city symphony, played in an insidiously dismaying register.

  • For his first fiction feature, Mendonça pushes the issue into touch and concentrates instead on delivering a densely textured panorama of nouveau-riche life in his hometown. The non-stop accumulation of detail demands close attention, and the ultimate revelation of the layers of history and social change underpinning the storylines provides plenty for Brazilian critics to chew over.

  • Impressionistic social fresco and enigmatic political allegory, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds resembles Lucrecia Martel’s masterpiece The Headless Woman in its portrait of masters whose solicitude toward servants quickly shades into class condescension, and of an insular bourgeoisie that has repressed its country’s recent violent history, expunging the past by burying or building over it.

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