7*; Invisible Life (2019)

Particulars:
-Explicit sex scenes
-Somewhat long but paced well
-Brazilian with English subtitles

Let’s center this movie commentary
around a simple subject: “letters.”

I think of “Love Letters,” a dramatic play with letters in the starring role. There was “The Scarlet Letter,” a book where ‘A’ letter (of course) was the center of attention. “The Letter” was a song by The Box Tops (“… my baby just-a wrote me a letter, …”) that gave the letter great prominence in the 1960s.

Spoiler alert! I’m about to give away one component of multi-layered outcome of this film. Do not open this envelope if you need to be completely surprised.

Has there ever been a movie where the person-to-person letter was the hero?

It was left to this film, in my performing arts memory, to sanctify the letter as having some ability to “save the day” as any hero/heroine might do.

Any plot summary will inform that this is about two very close sisters, separated in their teen years, who move through life unaware of their sibling’s outcome. The film covers each woman’s existence in worthy detail through tragic circumstances. One sister writes letters she hopes will reach the other, wishing for a response.

This novice viewer, unfamiliar with Brazilian names, nicknames, and culture, has trouble telling the women apart as the story shifts from scene to scene. The makers provide clues, such as the heirloom earrings that have special meaning to both. Still, I struggled. Yet I found both stories compelling.

There is a great deal of good in this production if the length, sex, and subtitles are not prohibitive impediments. The film sets seemed very apropos. The music score contained wonderful piano. The story pacing made 2h 19min not seem quite that long. Camera angles were creative. Across the board, the characters were exceedingly real, not Hollywood puppets.

Someone who exalts the letter form of communication desires that this film would have fully realized its differentiation by capturing the emotions that pour onto the pages of such correspondence. We comprehend that there is longing, but the contents and deep feelings expressed in those words could have been exposed more directly.

It is a pretty good movie effort, quite distinct from standard fare, and I give this 7 stars out of 10. Alternatively, it’s an A-minus or B-plus if you prefer a “letter grade.” 🙂

*(star) rating in the title is mine; e.g. 7*=Seven Stars (maximum 10)

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