Tayinho Teixeira, Brazil
Readers, I have something shameful to admit: I just cannot figure out SOL ALEGRIA. There are films which make audiences feel uncomfortable, which provoke disgust or hatred, or whose topics are difficult to swallow or which bring out uncomfortable truths. Film festivals in particular showcase the experimental and it is often just as enjoyable as it is frustrating to watch films trying to be something different. However, I have always been able to see value in even the most challenging film.
Then I sat through 90 minutes of SOL ALEGRIA.
Maybe if I knew a little bit more of Brazilian politics I could have better understood the symbolism. Maybe. I have my doubts. The thing is, SOL ALEGRIA is a wild jumble of absurdity. A family travels through a dystopian wasteland filled with naked gun-toting nuns, jungle orgies, incest, and nonsensical dialogue. Some examples of the poetic gems this film is filled with: “Tiger balm is the best kind of balm” and “My anus is more powerful than 70,000 rifles.” Take from that what you will. It makes about as much sense out of context as it does in the film.
If I wanted to, I could sit here and sift through the craziness and make up some explanations to it all. Maybe the absurdity of this film is pointing out the farcicality of present life in Brazil since the coup d’état. Sex-crazed nuns symbolize the hypocrisy of the church. The disturbing nuclear family represents the breakdown of societal values. Maybe that is what the filmmakers were trying to get across, or maybe I am making it out of whole cloth. Sometimes a cigar is a cigar, and sometimes a bad incomprehensible film is just a bad incomprehensible film.