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  Good Manners Lone Wolf And Cub
Year: 2017
Director: Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra
Stars: Isabel Zuaa, Marjorie Estiano, Miguel Lobo, Cida Moreira, Andrea Marquee, Felipe Kenji, Nina Medeiros, Neusa Velasco, Gilda Nomacce, Eduardo Gomes, Hugo Villavicenzio, Adriana Mendonca, Germano Melo, Naloana Lima, Clara de Capua
Genre: Horror, Drama, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Clara (Isabel Zuaa) is scraping by in a succession of low paid jobs when she lucks into an interview with a young, pregnant woman called Ana (Marjorie Estiano) who plainly has some money behind her, judging by her relatively lush surroundings in the posh area of Sao Paulo. All Clara has to do to be paid is see to various domestic chores around the house while Ana is in the process of having a baby, and once the infant has arrived she can help to look after him. It sounds simple enough, Clara has experience of looking after an elderly lady for a few years, for instance, so Ana accepts her into her home. But what the new help does not know is that her employer has serious reservations...

So what are we getting here? A quiet character drama? For the first hour, you may be forgiven for believing so, but writers and co-directors Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra had other ideas and were not about to stick to any rules of movie convention, since what you had in this case was a horror movie sprung on you. They had studied various incarnations of fairy tales down the years and had decided to craft their own take on a supernatural monster that you might have thought had been done to death over decades of genre flicks, yet this particular creature was not one so bound by the strictures of cliché as some of its peers. Nevertheless, there are rules to observe as with the others.

If you don't want to know what kind of movie this turned into, look away, go away and watch Good Manners and enjoy the surprise, but should you be a horror enthusiast who was keen to know what you were getting into, then the answer became apparent when Clara follows Ana when she sleepwalks across the city at night. The rich woman has already revealed that she is not as rich as she was, the apartment was bought for her but her wealthy father has gone no further in looking after her thanks to that pregnancy, the consequence of a one night stand while she was already engaged to be married to somebody else; the scandal has rocked the family and ended the nuptials.

Therefore poor Ana is adrift in life, a poor little rich girl who will soon have someone to take care of, and we can discern she is in no real shape to look after a baby, never mind herself. Underlining this is what Clara saw when her employer was out sleepwalking: with eyes ablaze, she picked up a cat, broke its neck and took a great, bloody bite out of its flesh, which she then consumed. Not the kind of behaviour that gives the nanny any hope of a conventional bond with Ana, or indeed one between Ana and her child, but this was not a conventional film as it contrasted the class differences and for one thing brought the two women together not through their mistress and servant relationship, but instead through their shared appreciation for lesbian sex which they lustily indulge in.

That at least indicates Clara has some affection for her troubled boss as they become lovers, but the fact remains there's something up with the baby that is clear after Ana relates her tale of conception through the medium of an illustrated story, just as if this were a fairy tale storybook, Red Riding Hood, say. Are you getting the picture yet? To say more really would spoil the big twist halfway through, but suffice to say something lupine is involved, and the second half of the movie featured Clara and the now seven-year-old child, Joel (Miguel Lobo), who must adhere to strict living conditions, especially at certain points in the calendar. With references to a host of shockers, anything from Rosemary's Baby to Michael Winner's black sheep horror The Sentinel, the directors made explicit the connection between the genre and the fables that had gone before it for thousands of years, very successfully too. It was too drawn out for its own good, but the ending packed an unexpected emotional punch: forgive them, for they know not what they do... any of them. Music (there were songs too) by Guilherme and Gustavo Garbato.

Aka: As Boas Maneiras

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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