As beautiful a cinematic essay on the subject of fear as I’ve seen in a while, Karim Aïnouz’s Futuro Beach manages to cover a plethora of fears common to the human condition – fear of solitude, fear of commitment, fear of rejection, fear of change, fear of death (hell, even fear of water is covered) – and the remarkable human ability to overcome them.
Donato (Wagner Moura) is a lifeguard at a Brazilian Beach who is only able to save one of two German tourists from drowning. Having never had to face death before, he reaches out to the surviving tourist Konrad (Clemens Schick) and soon finds himself in a complex relationship that leads him to question who he is and what he wants from life. Faced with making difficult choices, including the decision to abandon his younger brother and mother and relocate to Germany to join Konrad, Donato finds that his fears have followed him. Eventually isolating himself from Konrad and still unable to deal, he finds himself living a solitary life until he comes face-to-face with his past. Only then can he finally begin the journey of self-acceptance necessary to move beyond the fears that have held him back from experiencing a full life.
Cinematographer Ali Olay Gözkaya’s stunning photography captures the natural beauty of the Brazilian and European locations and enhances the story’s mood and tone. Performances are strong from the two principals and the two actors playing the younger brother Ayrton, ages 10 and 18 (Sávio Ygor Ramos and Jesuíta Barbosa,) also acquit themselves nicely. The scenes with the two brothers ably capture the special bond often shared between male siblings, which makes the older brother’s abandonment of his family that much more devastating.
Often jumping from moments of quiet and stillness to scenes with pulsating sounds and action, Futuro Beach grabs you from its opening shots of motorcyclists dwarfed by the turbines of a wind farm to its concluding POV imagery of another motorcycle trek down an endless road at dusk. It excels at cinematically and dramatically capturing a snapshot of the often emotionally treacherous voyage that is life.
Futuro Beach opens in San Francisco at Landmark’s Opera Plaza Cinemas on March 13. Check your local theatre listings.