Brazil (R) - 1985 - Runtime: 132 minutes
Starring: Jonathan Pryce, Katherine Helmond, Robert De Niro
Director: Terry Gilliam
I've only seen a couple Terry Gilliam movies, but I'm a big fan. I think 12 Monkeys is perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi flicks of all time. I even enjoyed the critical and financial bomb, The Brothers Grimm. I've always been meaning to check out his older movies because he's such a creative force in cinema. You really need to watch his movies a couple of times to appreciate all the ideas floating around. With that said, I feel like I'm going to need a second and third viewing of Brazil to fully comprehend and enjoy all the intricacies going on.
Brazil is set in a dystopian future where government bureaucratic red tape rules the land and everyone is obsessed with consumerism. It's a fairly distinct future and one that's offbeat and humorous. There's lots of little gags like a woman holding a picket sign that says "Christians for consumerism" and the cumbersome apartment buildings in which in order to fix any problem you need to fill out twenty or so forms. The movie follows Sam Lowry, a government bureaucrat himself, who has been having some very enlightening dreams in which he tries to save a woman. He gets caught up in a messy situation in which a very literal bug has screwed up two separate lives - one of which is considered a terrorist. The government intervenes and kills an innocent person because of this screw up and Sam delves deeper into the case. He ends up finding the woman in his dreams involved in the case and eventually finds himself an enemy of the state.
That's a lot of info to gather and I think that's why I really love this movie - there's is so much going on it's hard to take it all in during one sit down. I loved the atmosphere - there's lots of dark and noir-ish themes and set pieces, but all with a twisted sense of humor. Robert De Niro plays the terrorist whose identity has been switched with an innocent person - but he's more or less a hero because of his anti-government agenda. Supposedly he's part of the terrorist bombings that keep happening that kill dozens and hurt more.
Despite the heavy plot and dark undertones, the film is still quite funny. Sam's relationship with his overbearing and vain mother is funny. At one point she's seen getting literally a new face - the skin is pulled from her face like putty (a pretty disturbing and hilarious scene). And the absurdness of all the paperwork involved in day-to-day activities is hilarious but full of meaning. I really did enjoy this movie and it's going to take another viewing or two to really appreciate it.
Rating: Own It!