TV-14, again...because kids don't find the nuances of politics interesting. There's some language in here. It's translated through subtitles. At least, I think that I remember that being a thing. Mostly, this is a tale of corruption. The real disturbing thing is the rioting. There's a lot of real world violence and hatred here. People get really worked up over political situations and sometimes, that means lashing out at candidates or their peers. It's an emotional movie if you invest in it, and that can often change how images are viewed. TV-14.
DIRECTOR: Petra Costa
I normally lose my mind over the documentary category. I feel so wise and informed about the tragedy of the world that I question whether or not I should be watching narrative fiction whatsoever. I think watching documentary films makes me feel somehow better than most people, which ultimately makes me a bad person. But I had a hard time jumping on board this generation's documentary category. Maybe a nuanced understanding of the corruption of the Brazil tests me and my sense of empathy.
I mean, I do have some sense of empathy. I'm not a monster. It's just that politics to begin with is so overwhelming to begin with that it is hard to imagine adding Brazilian politics. Considering that everyone in the movie calls the documentarian "Petra", I too will forgo my rule about referring to directors by last name. Petra is heavily entrenched in Brazil's politics. She was born and raised in a world where democracy was being born in Brazil. It was something that her parents fought for. From that perspective, The Edge of Democracy is a vital film for Petra to make.
While it seems that she's a bit of a celebrity in Brazil, I really question her delivery style. While her narration is in English, it is over the Portuguese language argumentation of politicians and activists. Her voice is in such contrast to the vitriol being spouted by those on screen. Petra presents just tomes of information about Brazil and the complicated political situation in this flat affect. And it is just a lot of information. It's all very complex and, to Petra's credit, I think that I got a lot of it. But man alive, as bad as I felt for the situation in Brazil, I don't know how I got through the whole two hours about parties and their issues with the flexibility of law.
The movie, despite Petra's very calm demeanor and presentation style, is once again a reminder that the world is ending. But to do so, it feels like a very cold way for the world to end. Documentaries are often tasked with presenting information that may not be palatable. I often applaud these documentaries because they awake me to the truth. But maybe its just my learning style, but academics don't necessarily sell me 100%. In years past, I've learned about the horrors of Aleppo, but it's because my heart was moved. I also think of the travesties that have happened to immigrants, but it's because the movie allowed me to get to know those immigrants intimately.
But The Edge of Democracy is about a deluge of information. Petra is woefully aware that the average American probably doesn't know what the situation in Brazil is, so she's just dumping all of this information out. Dilma and Lula are foundational pieces to try to ground the movie, but they are presented as celebrities. I can't help but make a connection between Lula and Obama. Both are progressive leaders who both adorn such love and such disdain by the people. I'm sure it's not insane that I've made that connection. I'm sure that Petra also wanted me to make the same connection. But even though I respect Obama, I understand that he doesn't necessarily garner the sympathy that the average human being does. There's a wall between Obama and the common man. It's nothing created by him. If anything, he's probably devoted more time to minimizing the distance between Obama the President and Obama the Man.
But he's a celebrity. The same is true with Lula and Petra. So the movie becomes this defense of these two people who apparently were completely torn down by corporate interests and a corrupt government. That's really sad and logically, I can wrap my head around that. One part of that is that I have to accept everything that Petra does. I do, but that's completely due to bias that I'm aware of. If the movie is the tearing down of Dionysus, I have to relate to Dionysus first. When a film is devoted to me understanding the nuance of a very complex political system, the movie forgets to have me bond with these two people. They seem like good people. Based on the evidence that Petra presents, I see that some horrible things have been going on there.
But the movie also commits the sin of presenting the other side as monsters. That's a fair thing, I suppose, for Petra. She is dealing with corrupt politicians who build entire careers on lies and the hopes that the democracy will devolve into tyranny. But there are a handful of people who may be fighting for what they believe to be right. The world is ending. Yeah, it's some factions' faults more than other, but I refuse to believe that everyone in the world just wants to watch the world burn. But then why is the world the way it is right now? Trust me, I'm getting really depressed. I don't think I'm ready to doomsday prep yet, but I wonder what kind of world my daughters and son will inherit.
There's such a terrifying parallel between the role of the corrupt in the U.S. and the role of the corrupt in Brazil. I know that a lot of what is happening in Brazil is because of U.S. involvement there, but why are extreme conservatives coming out of the woodwork and taking over? There was that feeling like the marginalized finally had voices, but everything about securing a political position seems violent. All of those shots of protests had people stomping on faces and wishing the most evil for inconsistencies. It seems that everyone hates each other and it is not just in the United States. I thought that maybe it was just in the U.S. and the U.K., but maybe more people are angry.
Politics get people angry. I get that. I don't want to ignore that, but why has it escalated to such a level. The world is now us versus them and it scares the heck out of me. There are causes that need to be fought for, but it seems like antisemitism and hatred are the core traits that are coming forward. The Edge of Democracy highlights a president of Brazil who is vocally divisive. Why are people being drawn to hatred? I don't get what is happening to the planet, and I suppose that Petra only has a handful of answers.
But I can't recommend The Edge of Democracy. I know that there is important stuff here that people should be seeing, but it is a miniseries in the form of a movie. Rather than getting to know anyone who could actually humanize a lot of this horrible stuff, it kind of just spirals into a deluge of information that is distanced from humanity. We get these shots of people in riots that is powerful, but what if the film centered on a handful of these people. Make them become human instead of statistics thousands of miles away. I feel like a bad person for not being more moved by the events of this film. I stuck through it, but I need to open my heart more to really effect change.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.