It’s a Sad, Warm World: How ‘Invisible Life’ Inspires You to Connect

N

ot every film has the capacity to inspire its audience to do something meaningful. A film can of course be powerful without that quality, but when it does have it, it can prove to be a transformative experience for the viewer. Karim Aïnouz’s Invisible Life is one of those rare occasions because it spurs us to reflect on our life choices and our connection to those around us.

Adapted from a 2015 novel by Martha Batalha, the film collected the Un certain regard prize at Cannes this year, and was selected by Brazil to represent the country at the Academy Awards. It follows two sisters—Eurídice and Guida—whose bond is so robust that it drives them through adulthood after being forced to live apart from each other.

Aïnouz (who co-authored the script alongside directorial duties) doesn’t shy away from embracing the histrionic elements of the story, which details the impact of the sisters’ estrangement over a period of decades. In fact, the film was marketed upon release as a “tropical melodrama”—a perfect summary, since the warm colours and Brazilian vegetation (highlighted by the exemplary work of cinematographer Hélène Louvart) lend an enrapturing flair to the devastating narrative.

As events play out, we realise Eurídice and Guida have become trapped—not just physically, but mentally and emotionally—by the distance between them, and the way that destiny seems intent on keeping them apart. They are equally imprisoned by societal demands, the story beginning in the early 1950s: a time when sexism did not permit women—particularly those with transgressive attitudes—to navigate their lives the way they yearned to.

In line with his previous features, the director exhibits a deft ability to make us empathise with deeply flawed characters. Other filmmakers could’ve easily presented these people in a judgemental light, but Aïnouz knows better. The performances are crucial here, not only from the spellbinding leads but also the excellent supporting cast—especially Fernanda Montenegro, whose portrayal of the present-day Eurídice reminds us she’s truly one of the most talented actresses alive.

The affection that fills Invisible Life is as potent as the pain caused by the characters’ unknown futures and lack of control over their fates. Those feelings intensify throughout the course of the picture, and when the marvellous third act hits, it is almost impossible to hold back the tears. Even if you haven’t any siblings, you will feel compelled to reach out and contact your loved ones as the end credits roll . . . after you have recovered from that cathartic and haunting conclusion.

–Ronaldo Trancoso Jr

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