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Madalena. 2021. Brazil. Directed by Madiano Marcheti. In Portugese; English subtitles. 85 min.
In this hauntingly oblique yet vivid moral drama, set in a rural Brazilian town, three characters’ lives are affected in different ways by the death of Madalena, a local trans woman whose body is found in one of the vast soybean fields that stretch across the region. For cisgender Luziane (Natália Mazarim) and Cristiano (Rafael de Bona), a bar hostess and a wealthy soy farm scion, respectively, her death occasions vastly different kinds of rupture, while for Bianca (Pâmella Yule), a trans woman and friend of the deceased, it is a more tragically matter-of-fact instance of increasing violence perpetrated on their community. Director Madiano Marcheti’s almost sidelong approach—with Madalena providing the film’s structuring absence—is a provocative challenge to conventional narrative and a rebuke to formulaic depictions of trauma.
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