Request from Joel Gould
Brazil is a sci-fi-kinda thriller-kinda art-film-kinda comedy-kinda Terry Gilliam flick. It is part of the Dreams Trilogy, which features Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (both of which will be getting a review in the coming days). The Dreams trilogy is an unofficial-official trilogy about the dreams of a man through the different points of his life: childhood (Time Bandits), midlife working adult (Brazil), and retired elderly gent looking backwards (Munchausen). Doing a little bit of “presearch,” I wanted to check out the feelings of the general public as well as the critical public on Brazil. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 98% certified fresh and an average rating of 8.7 and only a single negative review. Metacritic an 88 metascore, including in that 8 perfect scores from the critics and no negatives at all. Flickchart, my personal favorite of these kinds of sites, has Brazil globally ranked as number 214 of all films ever, with 201 people putting it as their number one film.
I found all of those number interesting. Because I thought Brazil was utter garbage.
Brazil is a film set in a future-past where heating ducts are incredibly prominent because reasons. Where posh women wear shoes on their heads because reasons. Where Information Extraction experts where baby-doll masks because reasons. Where … I can’t even keep this joke up. I hated this movie. I found it to be incredibly dull except for the final climax, which was perfectly fine I suppose even if it was all a dream and didn’t matter. Spoilers, by the way.
Oops, too late. Shucks. *sarcasm*
In the film, a paperwork mishap sends a middle management information keyboard-pounder who dreams of freedom, flying, and love, and who is so good at his job everyone wants to give him a promotion and he doesn’t want it, sends him on a “journey” to save the life of the woman from his dreams before she is redacted and killed because reasons. The movie takes what could have been a pretty interesting setting and fails in every way to make it work in my opinion:
- The setting is either claustrophobic (which could have been thematic, and forgivable) or stupid-big, alternating for no reason. In a bureaucratic run world, I’m pretty sure those stupid-big buildings and spaces would not be left to be there.
- The actors are ALL subpar, which is terrible considering that the bit-parts and cameos feature actors like Robert DeNiro and Bob Hoskins. Why cast great actors in small pointless roles and keep the flustered or barely acting ones in the leads? And I don't actually think the blame is all on the actors, as Jonathan Pryce is actually a perfectly fine actor. But as a leading man, the audience's eyes into this film world, he just become a flustered sweaty series of double-takes.
- Over the course of four scenes as our hero tries to explain to his dream-love girl that she is in danger for her life, instead of saying that in any way, shape or form, he just continues to ask “do you trust me?” and tells her that he loves her. You could explain that they are coming to kill her because of a clerical error that started this whole thing at ANY point. But nope, if he did, the movie would be over because they would just leave. Nope gotta have her fall in love with this creeper stalker because reasons, and then the two of them have sex in his mother's bed as she wears his mother's clothing and wigs. That is not a joke, that is what happens.
- In the opening of the film, it seems like there was a theme going on of blue-collar heroes, workers who swooped in to do their jobs and left before the red tape could get in the way, but that falls to the wayside real quickly after that. Even worse, there are EVIL blue-collar workers who work for the bureaucracy and are jerks because reasons. No, no, no, I know the reason! It is so they can be blown up in a terrible poop joke as comeuppance!
- I could find absolutely ZERO reason for this movie to be called Brazil within the movie itself. It isn't set there, no one references it in dialogue or in background setting posters (which by the way are actually interesting, but we only see probably three of them, so they don't really matter or amount to anything). The song plays once in a car. Is it for the song? Well, that's what Gilliam says in the book about the film. So good. I guess.
And hundreds of other little stupid bits that I just do not have the time or space to write about. I do want to say something good about the film, though. The first few dream sequences where our protagonist is flying in his Icarius suit (don't worry, the film in no way make reference to the Icarius inspiration, why would it?) and the clouds and all that ... those work. They look a bit cheap and fakey, but they work enough. And again, the dream stuff in the climax of the film works. But that is nowhere near enough to make me recommend this film.
This movie is almost 100% style over substance. No, I take it back, because there is substance there, it is just rehashed over-used plot garbage thrown in a blender with a bunch of nonsensical character motivations and random happenstance to keep the movie moving forward as inorganically as possible. I do understand how this movie can top so many lists. It is unique. It is fascinating. It is also utter utter garbage in every metric I could ever conceive to rate a film. How ANY critic can give this film a perfect score is beyond me, let alone 8 perfect scores.