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Decomposition in Open Image

Hearts and Guts (1982)

by Marcelo Miranda

           It was 1982 when Hearts and Guts hit the theaters, the same year as Go Ahead, Brasil!, the film by Roberto Farias that first spoke openly of the horrors of the military dictatorship, two years before the end of the regime. It seems symptomatic to me that Ana Carolina's second feature film has appeared together with Farias': one is a counterpoint to the other, so that, to a certain extent, they deal with very similar concerns. While Go Ahead, Brasil! seeks a strictly objective dialogue with the public by narrating, in a thriller format, the repression mechanism of institutionalized power against opponents of the authoritarian regime, Hearts and Guts allegorizes a state of things in a way that the main sense is to question the use of power as an exchange currency for a supposed social welfare. Ana Carolina's film is naturally linked to its time, but brought to light in any other period, it maintains its provocations and contradictions. It is, thus, a complete and timeless artistic object, while Farias' is a historical object of its time.

          The comparison seems valid to me because Hearts and Guts, reviewed in 2022, does not speak "only" of a moment in the Brazilian audiovisual, it is not a film that is seen or reviewed for completism, authorship, or historical research (at least not only for this). It speaks of Brazil, of authoritarian outbursts, of the machinations of the rich to trample on the poor, of the instances of power used in a game of forces, of fetishes and repressions brought to the surface as a disease. It is a delirious film whose structure is made visible through incomprehension and excess, jouissance and libertinism, bad taste and rhetorical sophistication. If in her previous film, Sea of Roses (1977), Ana Carolina deals with the failure of intimacy as an affective resource for salvation, in Hearts and Guts what we see is a broader, more dispersive and more determining portrait of the type of relationships that interest the director's cinema and that she identifies as the genesis of the society in which she moves as a creator.

          As much as it is a work that, from its premiere on, becomes fixed in the cultural imaginary and becomes part of it, Hearts and Guts could only emerge the way it did precisely at the sunset of the dictatorship, when reflections on authoritarianism came more forcefully, like a purge of the silencing of decades. It is not for nothing that the film was held up for months by the censors and only released after the insertion of an informative sign which read that everything in the scene was "a delirious interpretation that does not correspond to reality" - based on the supposed dream that Antônio Fagundes' character has right at the beginning.

           Hearts and Guts starts with the arrival of an intervener (Fagundes) to close a girls' school under the justification of losses and lack of productivity. While waiting for the principals (about whom he speculates if they are "pretty"), the man rests his head on the table and nods off. The film then seemingly adopts the intervener's dream as a narrative propulsion, even though nothing but the cut in the editing indicates exactly that. The framing serves much more so that Ana Carolina can free herself from any ties of plot or narration pure and simple, and can, with the freedom of a good creator, go through the most complete absurdity of debauchery and provocation. The simple procedure of indicating a dream removes the film from the realistic commitment that is usually a big demanded, especially in Brazilian cinema, and allows it to expose, speak and show what is convenient without needing to be accountable to any argumentative logic. This is the only way to be able to relate Luis Buñuel [The Exterminating Angel (1962), or Viridiana (1961)] to Věra Chytilová [The Daisies (1966)] and make a kind of even more libertarian rereading of Zero in Conduct (1933).

           The references are there, but they are secondary to what Ana Carolina does in Hearts and Guts and serve more to locate the director in a type of anarchic cinema that prizes the disregard for conventionally established rules. As I said before, the filmmaker is not concerned with being accountable or winking. What comes from the film is the irreverence of shock, the constant surprise of its own directions, the growing absurdism that escapes from simplistic metaphors. There are those who see psychoanalysis, and there are those who see 'chanchada' in Hearts and Guts. Ana Carolina's delicious salad has a bit of everything, and what is most apprehended is the welcome (and sometimes embarrassing, in the sense of our perception and identification) lack of control that only arises from those who know very well how to travel. In the radiography of power hierarchies, Hearts and Guts lets us see the deepest of its moving - and decomposing - organs.


October, 2022

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