INVISIBLE LIFE (A Vida Invisive!)

(director/writer: Karim Aïnouz; screenwriters: Murilo Hauser/Ines Bortagara/based on the book “A Vida Invisíve! de Eurídice Gusmão” by Martha Bataalha; cinematographer: Helene Louvart; editor: Heike Parplies; music: Benedikt Schiefer; cast: Carol Duarte (Euridice, when young), Julia Stockler (Guida/Giselle), Gregorio Duvivier (Antenor), Fernanda Montenegro (Euridice), Barbara Santos (Filomena), Flavia Gusmao (Ana), Maria Manoella (Zélia), Antonio Fonseca (Manoel), Cristina Pereira (Cecília), Gillray Coutinho (Afonso), Marcio Vito (Osvaldo); Runtime: 139; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Rodrigo Teixeira, Michael Weber, Viola Fügen; Amazon Studios; 2019-Brazil/Germany-in Portuguese with English subtitles)

“The praiseworthy melodrama challenges the concepts of a patriarchal society and their outdated stereotypes about the female gender.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A seductive period melodrama about the lasting bond between sisters in the 1950s Rio de Janeiro. It’s based on the 2016 novel by Martha Bataalha called “A Vida Invisíve! de Eurídice Gusmão.” Brazilian filmmaker and visual artist Karim Aïnouz (“Future Beach”/”Madame Sata”) co-writes it with Murilo Hauser and Ines Bortagarais. The film’s tagline of  “a tropical melodrama” is an accurate description.

Growing up in a traditional working-class family are the inseparable but vastly different Gusmão sisters: the 20-year-old headstrong Guida (Julia Stockler) is pursued by a handsome Greek sailor and the 18-year-old cautious Eurídice (Carol Duarte) is an innocent pianist yearning to win a place at a conservatory in Vienna. After the marriage to the sailor, the shamed parents keep the sisters apart and they have different lives and do not see each other for the next two decades. Eurídice backs her baker father and agrees to marry Antenor (Gregorio Duvivier), the son of her father’s business partner, and thereby gives up her career to become a traditional housewife. Meanwhile Guida is abandoned by the sailor and ends up as a single parent outcast, as she returns home but is shunned by her father.

The sisters try to communicate by letters sent through their mother, but each never receives a reply. Therefore the sisters never get a chance to see how each is doing. The irony is that they both are living in the same city and both have experienced unfulfilling marriages.

The praiseworthy melodrama challenges the concepts of a patriarchal society and their outdated stereotypes about the female gender. Its emotional richness adds to the story’s tragic elements and makes it abundantly clear that the filmmaker thinks that women in modern society should choose their own lifestyles.

Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

REVIEWED ON 12/16/2019  GRADE: B+