Seashore (Beira-Mar), 2015
Directed by Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon.
Starring Mateus Almada, Mauricio Jose Barcellos, Elisa Brites, Francisco Gick, and Fernando Hart.
Two estranged friends are sent to deal with family documents at a remote Brazilian beach house. During their stay, the pair redefine the boundaries of their friendship, exploring what they really mean to one another.
In a world of super heroes and transforming robots, it’s easy to forget sometimes that there’s more to cinema than dramatic explosions and scantily clad women, although that’s obviously a huge part of it… *shakes fist angrily at Michael Bay. No, cinema is so much more than that, although sometimes, one needs to look outside of the Hollywood machine to find those different kind of films, ones that treat cinema as an art form rather than merely as spectacle.
It’s important to stress from the outset that the Seashore (Beira-Mar) does not cater to everyone’s tastes, even if you’re a fan of small, independent films, or even world cinema in general. However, if you can forego a lack of narrative in favour of an entrancing tone and atmosphere, Seashore could be one of the most mesmerising films you’ll see all year.
The bare bones of the story concerns the relationship between two Brazilian friends, Martin (Mateus Almada) and Tomaz (Mauiricio Jose Barcellos), but here, words are rarely exchanged. Instead, meaning is found in the hidden glances the two share, the words that aren’t said. Little background information is given for us to work with, so instead, the audience has to infer the events that preceded the pairs reunion and their subsequent interactions. It’s only towards the end that the plot gears up a few notches, something that will either infuriate or delight you, depending on how much you’ve enjoyed Seashore up to that point.
The limited dialogue forces audiences to pay more attention to the performances of the actors and fortunately, the central duo excel with a sensitive, restrained approach to their acting that fits the tone of the film. Intimate moments between the two veer between teenage awkwardness and subtle attractions that feel entirely authentic to anyone who’s experienced something similar as a young adult.
As the drama is unusually limited, the key draw of Seashore is in its gorgeous tone and atmosphere. It’s no coincidence that the handheld camera drifts in and out, hypnotic like the lull of the ocean, and this enhances the stunning cinematography on display. The colour blue features heavily here, but it’s far from the warmest colour for a change. The sky, the ocean, even Tomaz’s hair dye possesses a washed out blue that almost looks grey, bringing the melancholy of the films atmosphere to the fore.
Despite the mundanity of the narrative, Seashore is almost dreamlike in its approach to the material, evoking a kind of poetic realism rarely seen in American productions. Overall, this is handled rather delicately by first time directors Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon, although one scene that alludes to masturbation during a video game session sticks out like a sore thumb, clumsily drawing attention to themes that are explored far more subtly in the rest of the film…
And therein the issues lies. While this languid approach is perfectly suited to the shorts Matzembacher and Reolon previously produced, more dramatic tension is required to sustain Seashore’s running time. The leads may be as attractive as the scenery that surrounds them, but even the most patient of viewers will find their attention drifting in and out like the tide.
Seashore is a more subjective film to rate than most. Those looking for an artistic exploration of friendship and sexuality will find the films listless approach fascinating, despite its often languid pace, while those seeking more of a story to engage in may be more bored mindless. Seashore may not even be particularly original as a coming of age story, check out North Sea Texas for something similar with more to say, but it’s refreshing at least to watch a LGBT film devoid of trauma or judgement based on sexual orientation.
Seashore is now available to watch on DVD and VOD services, including Netflix.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★