Of all the classic storylines that we see repeated time and again throughout history, writers seem to have a special place in their hearts for the ol’ “art imitates life, life imitates art, life and fiction become one” trope. Probably because it has a lot to do with the increasingly blurry boundaries between one’s life and work that emerge during the process of creation. Plus, the idea of our real lives being taken over by a supposed work of imagination is always kinda creepy and unsettling.
Which is why there’s something oddly creepy and unsettling about the new Brazilian feature Beatriz, from veteran director Alberto Graça. The film follows a Brazilian couple that moves to Lisbon hoping that the husband can reconnect with his vocation as a fiction writer in the midst of a creative crisis. Beatriz, his wife, takes up work as a lawyer while husband Marcelo dusts off the proverbial typewriter and embarks on a second novel exploring the theme of jealousy. When Beatriz takes a special interest in the novel and starts contributing her own ideas for the female character, things start getting weird and, well, life and fiction become one.
All of this is accomplished with an exceptionally dark and moody, low-contrast cinematography that privileges night exteriors and dimly lit interior locations. We can appreciate from the trailer that Beatriz strikes a peculiar tonal mix between danger and melancholy, with a strong sense of the erotic. For someone who understands about 40 percent of what’s being said, it seems Graça and his co-writers have also used a highly evocative, literary language in their screenplay, that we will hopefully appreciate more in a future stateside release.