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I look at the sky and see how good it is...

Mars One (Gabriel Martins, 2022, Brazil)

by Juliana Costa

Nightfall / look at the sky and see how good it is /

see the stars in the darkness / hope you return / to Saigon

Saigon, Emilio Santiago 

          Mars One (2022) starts with sounds of explosion and the cries of Bolsonaro’s government victory - and I confess that I’m reluctant to write this name in a text about such a delicate film. But it’s a fact that the name is the second word (after "myth") that we hear, still with the image of the starry sky occupying all the screen. However, if the sky as a space of power is occupied by these words of agony, the characters of Mars One occupy other expressive spaces: the spaces of pleasure. It’s no coincidence that the fabled tone of the narrative and images, such as Deivinho’s face looking at infinity, reinforced by an unequivocal soundtrack, evokes the American’s youth adventure films of the early 1980s, a period of Reagan-era conservatism. In moments of explicit attack, we take refuge in dreams, in the possibility of returning to Saigon.

         While the most suffered victory of the Brazilian republic happens, the house of Tercia (Rejane Faria) and Welligton (Carlos Francisco), parents of Deivinho (Cícero Lucas) and Euníce (Camilla Damião), sleeps. Still, the explosion will happen again in an unspoiled moment and repeats itself scene after scene in the ears of Tercia and in our ears. A bang that announces all the time: something bad will happen. In fact it does. Between prosaic and chimeric situations, such as the telescope built by Deivinho, the family structure is being stirred by the dreams and desires of the couple’s children, mother’s crises of anxiety and the father’s dismissal.

       If the characters occupy this space of pleasure, the space of possibility and dreaming, the director Martins also occupies his: anthropophagy the best of American cinema of the 1980s, as he had already done in In the Heart of the World (2019), which co-directs with Maurílio Martins, and films the family with the tenderness innocence of a Steven Spielberg and the heroic dignity of a Clint Eastwood. It is in the close-ups of the curious face of Deivinho, or in the expression of the father afflicted with the dismissal, or in the construction of the scene in which Euníce presents her girlfriend to the family during a game of Atlético and Cruzeiro football teams, or in the sequence’s tension of Deivinho’s bicycle accident, that Mars One handle flies and takes us to the sky of our cinematic childhood - when we were still innocent - and to where we always want to return. 

 

        But Mars One is a Brazilian thing, and it also drags our fantasy to the auditorium programs (national heritage), which had its heyday on Brazilian television in the 1990s, with the couple of boyfriends from the house where Tercia works. Martins still presents us with a scene of hot sex in a forbidden place, lulled by Emilio Santiago, in the style of mini-series television midnight. It is this collage of cinema with television, show with daily life, tutti fruit with banana, that prints in the film an absolutely current nostalgia.

 

        Mars One arrives in theaters in the same year as Nope (2022), by Jordan Peele, with whom he shares, in opposite ways, the gaze at the show. If Peele penetrates the visual mannerism to think about the cinema after the end, Martins takes a step back and seeks cinema in the everyday images of a Brazilian middle-class family. And they both touch each other in the sky. Remaining in national soil (or in the depths of the national soil), Mars One goes to the screens in the same year of the premiere in festivals of Mato Seco em Chamas (2022), by Adirley Queirós and Joana Pimenta. And there could not be two films so different about Brazil from the Bolsonaro era. While Adirley Queirós talks about a dystopian community as political resistance, Gabriel Martins looks with tenderness at a family that remains united despite the explosions: "We will manage, honey," says Welligton with a timid confidence after the resignation.

 

       Looking briefly at this scenario, Mars One is a hug. There is the possibility of the dream. Deivinho can dream of his mission Mars One, Eunice can imagine a peaceful future with his girlfriend, Gabriel Martins can travel to Los Angeles and return with a golden statuette. We didn't even know we needed this movie so badly in 2022.

October, 2022

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