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Kleber Mendonça Filho’s AQUARIUS is unthinkable without Sonia Braga’s fiery, dignified performance
There’s a lot in common between Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça FIlho’s anxiously-awaited second fiction feature, Aquarius, and a couple of other films that also saw their premieres in the 2016 Cannes festival. I’m thinking particularly of Paul Verhoeven’s Elle and Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, films that are also anchored around strong women and strong actresses. In many ways, all three films are off-centred women’s pictures that refuse to be bound by the limitations and conventions of whatever genre they’re working in (and none of them can fit peacefully any one specific genre); they’re also love letters to their actresses, that aim to give them as much time and space as possible for a character to emerge. Peculiarly enough, only one of them was actually directed by a woman, and Maren Ade’s film is in fact named after the alter ego of its male character — but either way, these are film…

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