Anyone who’s had the chance (and pocketbook) to witness a Broadway musical knows that sometimes we’re so deeply overcome with emotion that the only thing left to do is sing. Well, maybe in real life that’s not commonly the case, but even so, music can often bring out complex emotional shades that mere words cannot. Which is perhaps why director Caetano Gotardo chose to cap off his otherwise realist, omnibus feature O que se move (The Moving Creatures) with some rather unconventional musical sequences composed by himself and Marco Dutra.
The Moving Creatures’ narrative follows the parallel stories of three women struggling with the limits of motherhood, where we see that despite a mother’s famed unconditional love, they can be just as flawed and imperfect as any other human being. In the first story, the mother of a boy in late adolescence learns of her son’s deepest secret a moment too late; in the second, a mother muses with a friend on the cognitive life of an infant as her husband suffers through an unexplained malaise; in the third, a husband and wife prepare to reunite with their long-lost daughter. Things get funky when each woman finally closes out her segment with a song detailing the lessons learned from her travails.
Interestingly, Gotardo took his inspiration for the three stories from real-life incidents culled from newspaper reports, though he wasn’t ashamed to posit his own personal interpretation of the events. The trailer gives a sense of the peculiar tone The Moving Creatures has set out to achieve, with a playful but melancholic clarinet bouncing over images that walk a fine line between family tragedy and Woody Allen-esque domestic comedy. The two-minute montage then closes out with a clip of famed Brazilian actress Cida Moreira, who plays the mother in the film’s first story, singing it out from the depths of her soul.
Overall, The Moving Creatures promises to be an innovative and highly idiosyncratic exploration of parenthood that has thus far caught the attention of festivals and critics alike, and earned the film a New York premiere as part of the Brazilian Film Series: Year One at Cinema Village.