By Brent Davidson
14th August 2018

Mystery and magic are aplenty in the less than idyllic Sao Paulo in Brazil, where Clara (Isabel Zuaa), a nurse desperate for a job, interviews with the wealthy and mysterious Ana (Majorie Estiano) for the role of live in maid and nanny for her yet-to-be-born child. Their relationship becomes increasingly intimate, until Ana gives birth to her child. With the tragedy that surrounds this birth, the child is then raised by Clara in a more remote part of Brazil.

Oh - and the child is also a tiny, adorable and horrific werewolf.


It's not something you'd really expect to be said of a film that seems like it was teetering on the verge of being about a burgeoning lesbian domestic drama, but here it is. The graphic nature of the birth of Joel (MIguel Lobo) is really quite impacting, but is within the general tone of the rest of the piece - it never really shies away from the graphic and shows what is needed in almost its entirety, be that sex or violence.

The performances are all excellent and there is really no hesitation from any of the cast to do what is expected of their roles. That said, the story is bizarre, as is the premise - and while I'm not at all averse to this, I honestly can't see this film working outside the context of a film festival in the way it has so far been presented in Australia. It's certainly interesting, but there are moments in its two and a quarter hours that feel like the pacing is off. The same effect could have probably been achieved in one and a half hours. But that's the beauty of a film such as this - in a festival setting, without the pressures of commercial release, a film is allowed to explore itself.

It never really shies away from the graphic and shows what is needed in almost its entirety, be that sex or violence.

That said, if bizarre, gruesome, sometimes lesbian, supernatural Brazilian films are your thing, 'Good Manners' will probably be right up your alley in what was one of the more surprising films of this year's festival.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
RELATEDFOXTROTAn unpredictable drama that dances to its own beat
RELATEDTHE BREADWINNERThe power of storytelling and the human spirit
RELATEDTHE BREAKER UPPERERSAnother soon-to-be New Zealand comedy classic
RELATEDDISOBEDIENCEAn emotionally rich collision of faith and desire
RELATEDUPGRADEFuturism and face-smashing action
RELATEDROCKABULChanging minds through music
RELATEDGENESIS 2.0The next age of man?
RELATEDTHE ICE KINGSo much more than a champion figure skater
RELATEDSAMUI SONGA twisty, noir-ish exploration of female identity in Thailand
RELATEDHARD PAINTA colourful addition to cinema's queer comeback
RELATEDWRATH OF SILENCEAction-filled mystery and scathing social critique
RELATEDTHE INSULTA brilliant examination of the nature of conflict
RELATEDLEAVE NO TRACEOverflowing with hope and compassion
RELATEDMIRAIA magical journey through childhood
RELATEDTHE FIELD GUIDE TO EVILAn uneven assortment of international terrors
RELATEDA VIGILANTEA timely blow to the throat of toxic masculinity
RELATEDJILL BILCOCK: DANCING THE INVISIBLEA fascinating portrait of an Australian cinema icon
RELATEDWEST OF SUNSHINEStruggle in the suburbs
RELATEDBLACKKKLANSMANSpike Lee plays his Trump card
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGWHO THE HELL IS BLOODSHOT?A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
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