ONCE UPON A TIME, VERÔNICA (Era Uma Vez Eu, Verônica) (2012)
Starring Hermila Guedes, João Miguel, W.J. Solha, Dandara Pagu, Neco Tabosa, Maeve Jinkings, Matheus Torreao, Coca, Sandro Guerra, Júlio Rocha, Renata Roberta, Anthero Montenegro, Chico Ribeiro, Madalena Accioly, Didha Pereira, Inae Verissimo and Karina Buhr.
Screenplay by Marcelo Gomes.
Directed by Marcelo Gomes.
Distributed by Big World Pictures. 91 minutes. Not Rated.
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 opportunity.
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.