It’s crazy to go on. We’ll never get there.
“Barren Lives” is set in 1940's Brazil and shows a migrant family in the depths of poverty and what steps they take to survive.
I didn’t enjoy this movie. Every minute was agonizing and I just wanted it to be over. But I didn’t hate it because that was the point. The slow-moving plot, repressive heat, and the constant suffering of the family made for a tough watch.
Director Nelson Pereira dos Santos makes you suffer alongside the family to the point of exhaustion.
Every aspect of the film has been calculated to create a depressive mood. Shot in black and white, colour doesn’t exist in this world. Everything is dry like the creek bed and deadly like the sun. The soundtrack is minimal and the viewer will notice the silence in many scenes where there’s no dialogue and only ambient sound. What little music exists is mostly composed of a whining violin that persists like a hungry mosquito. Long shots of repetitive motion show the monotony of their lives and character flaws lead to tragic mistakes.
At every turn the family suffers. Whenever things go well, the situation soon sours. The father finds employment but his boss underpays him. They’re hired to look after cows but the drought starts to kill them. At times it seems the whole world including the environment is against them.
As well violence can be found throughout the film both visited upon and perpetrated by the family for survival and reveal the harshness of the world.
I can’t say I’d recommend this movie because it wasn’t a good watch. In fact, this review is meant to save you the 100 minutes I believe you’d waste watching this. It was both brutal and interesting but not something I would ever re-watch.