Once Upon a Time, Verônica
This Brazilian and French
co-production, a look at a disenchanted 30-ish psychiatric intern in the
Recife, Brazil, who is trying to fight apathy in her life.
It’s a beautiful and
often intriguing film, but not quite as insightful as the filmmaker Marcelo
Gomes seems to think it is.
Verônica (Hermila Guedes)
is a pretty and smart medical student who has gotten her first job at a
crowded public clinic in which she is regularly abused by her desperate
patients. She is dating an older man, but while he is in love with her, she
is in it completely for the sex. In fact, she is not a big believer in love
at all, however sex helps her to deaden the emptiness in her life. She
lives in a council flat with her father, a loving but gruff man who is
inflicted by some unnamed malady.
The first hour of the
film tracks her desperate attempts to fit in – with her work, with her dad,
with her friends, with her lovers. She comes to treat herself as one of her
own patients, trying to find out why she is so disenchanted with her life.
And what exactly is her
nirvana? Apparently a new small home with her dad and the opportunity to do
a group skinny-dip in the ocean. Sure, why not? Both sound nice to me.
After beating up on his
heroine for most of the first part of the film, Gomes seems to have hit a
wall and lets her off the hook way too easily. She finds her bliss – or at
least as close as she will ever come to bliss – rather perfunctorily. She
just seems to decide to change her life and then she does. You almost
wonder if it is so simple why she waited so long.
Of course that is not the
case, but Gomes refuses to delve deeply enough into his heroine’s psyche.
To a certain extent, this concern is even faithful to Verônica’s guarded and
close-to-the-vest nature, but it still feels like a bit of a lost
That said, the film is
beautiful to look at and extremely well acted, particularly by Guedes who
conveys a stormy insecurity in a passive look. Once Upon A Time, Verônica
shows a corner of the world you normally never get to see and introduces you
to lives you would never encounter.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2014 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: November 28, 2014.