Bacurau first look review Cannes Film Festival 2019

Brutal Carpenter-esque sci-fi western hybrid Bacurau is a stunning and furious piece of social commentary

Bolsonaro’s Brazil is brutally massacred in a sci-fi western hybrid that is incandescent with rage. Set in the near future, Bacurau, a small village in the Brazillian sertão suddenly vanishes from world maps. The close-knit community is then ambushed by a group of foreign safari hunters led by Udo Kier, and a bloody siege begins in the style of Rio Bravo meets John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13. The direct nods to Carpenter can be clearly seen from the name of the local school to the fact that the score features the synth heavy menace of ‘Night’ from his album Lost Themes.

Sonia Braga’s wild, alcoholic doctor emits a screeching pain from the moment she walks on screen; not only is she grief stricken at the death of the matriarch of the village, her heart aches for her people. Braga and Kier share a gleefully weird and wonderful scene that plays out to Spandau Ballet, there’s little explanation to it, but it’s fantastic to watch two screen legends just go for it. The film is peppered with memorable characters who step in to help, with a Rambo-like hero named Lunga enlisted to save the day; he’s all bling, bare-chested and gorgeous mullet wrapped up in camo pants.

As the locals rally together, the filmmakers present a warming microcosm of society who live in harmony with one another, no matter their sexuality or social standing. It’s also a place where culture and tradition lives side by side with flashy technology. The only threats come from the outside world via a politician on the campaign trail, and the fact that their water supply has been cut off.

Mendonca Filho and Dornelles whip up a heady ambience with their references to Cangaco cinema and gun toting baddies who speak about their human prey with a detached psychopathy. These gun crazy folk hail from around the world but much is made of their attachment to the USA. A long history of hostility to the indigenous population of the country, which has only increased under Bolsonaro (nicknamed the Trump of the Tropics by the media) backs up the fury behind this revenge fantasy as the people fearlessly fight back against violent intimidation and injustice. They go out all guns blazing with the action displaying a gonzo gung-ho kick that is regularly pierced with surreal flourishes and pitch black humour.

Bacurau was seen and reviewed at Cannes Film Festival 2019.