(director/writer: Karim Ainouz; screenwriters: Wislan Esmeraldo, Mauricio Zacharias; cinematographer: Helene Louvart; editor: Nelly Quettier; music: Amin Bouhafa, Benediki Schiefer; cast: Fabio Assuncao (Elias), Nataly Rocha (Dayana), Iago Xavier (Heraldo), Renan Capivara (Jorge), Fabiola Liper (Bambina); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Janaina Bernardes, Caio Gullane, Fabiano Gullane, Andre Novis, Gabrielle Tanner, Helene Theodoly; Gullane; 2024-Brazil/France/GermanyUK-in Portuguese with English subtitles)

“Its intimate scenes were captivating.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brazilian director and writer Karim Ainouz (“Madame Sata”/”Futuro Beach”) along with co-writers Wislan Esmeraldo and Mauricio Zacharias passionately present this erotic noir thriller set in Brazil.

Following in the steps of John Garfield’s performance in The Postman Always Rings Twice, is the 21-year-old Heraldo (Iago Xavier). He wants to flee a drug crime lady boss, Bambina (Fabiola Liper), to seek work in the city as a businessman. But she falsely believes he had something to do with the botched job of collecting a bill from a foreign businessman because he was not there to help his brother Jorge (Renan Capivara), who was killed doing the job alone.

On the run from Bambina’s goons, the good-looking young man finds sanctuary and work in a sleazy “love” motel, Motel Destino, cleaning the soiled sheets every day in the quickie sex dive.

The motel is in the town of Ceara, in Northeastern Brazil, located in isolation near the beach. The creepy queer manager Elias (Fabio Assuncao) and his abused wife Dayana (Nataly Rocha) let Heraldo stay there as a worker, whereby he begins almost immediately an affair with the manager’s wife. But he has to ward off the sexual advances of her husband, and eventually protect himself from him. 

The drama captures the stifling atmosphere, and its intimate scenes were captivating. However, It failed to be tightly scripted and left us with an unfulfilling climax.

It played at the Cannes Film Festival.