Stranger Says: A black woman, Clara, becomes a domestic servant to an upper-class pregnant white woman. Their formal relationship turns deeply weird when Clara discovers her boss’s grotesque nocturnal habits. At first satirizing the exploitation of the working class, the Brazilian Good Manners segues elegantly into romance and then supernatural horror—and that’s just in the first hour. At that point, the script abruptly abandons its most fascinating, queerest themes to chase a less unique plot thread. Luckily, Isabél Zuaa as Clara is so subtle and intense that you never want her to leave the screen.
SIFF Says:Clara, a lonely, dark-skinned Brazilian woman living in a São Paulo favela, can barely pay her rent. However, her fortunes improve when she answers an ad to be a live-in nanny for the wealthy and beautiful Ana. Despite a bungled interview on Clara’s part, Ana decides to hire her. Clara moves in even though the baby’s birth is still weeks away. Soon she begins to perform all of the household’s domestic duties, as a friendship develops between the two, slowly deepening into something more intimate. Yet, all is not well with Ana. She walks in her sleep, her appetite grows and wanes with the full moon, and mysterious circumstances shroud her baby’s conception and the father’s identity. When Ana finally delivers her child, Clara must make an irrevocable decision, one that will forever alter her life. Co-written and directed by Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, GOOD MANNERS is a dark, gothic fairy tale—drawing equal parts inspiration from Angela Carter, Jacques Tourneur, and John Landis—meticulously blending reality and fantasy into an unforgettably chimerical film while also exploring the economic and social inequalities endemic throughout modern day Brazil.
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