“A Wolf at the Door” A Traumatic Nail-biter (Film Review)

WOLFatDOOR poster

Probably one of the best foreign films I’ve seen thus far this year, A Wolf at the Door tells a wicked story that boggles the mind and carries a nasty punch.  Delivering excellent performances all around, writer/director Fernando Coimbra puts his film at the level of City of God.  Working with a true incident so horrific it’s inconceivable, yet he’s able to attract the curiosity within us to its gut wrenching ending.

The film opens with Sylvia (Fabíula Nascimento) walking from her small house to the local school in suburban Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to pick up her 6 year old daughter Clara.  When she gets to the school she’s told by Dona (Katherine Teles), Clara’s teacher, that  the child is not there. She tells Sylvia that someone who said she was her neighbor came by to pick the Clara because she said you were ill. Stricken with the thought of a kidnapping, Sylvia contacts the police.  At the police station Detective Delegado (Juliano Cazarr) questions the teacher and then Sylvia trying to get to the bottom of the abduction.

Milhem Cortaz as Bernado

Milhem Cortaz as Bernado

Bernardo (Milhem Cortaz), Sylvia’s husband, gets informed of the situation and reports to Detective Delegado. Upon entering Delgado’s office he claims his mistress Rosa (Leandra Leal) is trying to play a trick on him. The detective has Rosa brought to his office and Dona identifies her as the person who took the child from her school. So begins a cat and mouse game that leads to a sordid affair and twisted lies.

Excellent direction by Fernando Coimbra keeps the story moving at a fast pace with characters personified by exemplary actors that tantalize, titillate and then traumatize. He works closely with his camera director to get memorizing close ups that bring out the torment, pain and anguish in his actors performances.  As Coimbra widens the relationship between Rosa and Bernardo he convincingly shows Rosa’s jealousy of Sylvia growing and her desire for a life with Bernardo.

Fabíula Nascimento as Sylvia

Fabíula Nascimento as Sylvia

Coimbra’s choice of actors in Milhem Cortaz as the cheating husband and Fabíula Nascimento as the wronged wife are right on target. As Sylvia, Nascimento digs deep to show her disbelief that her husband would cheat on her and cause a blow to the family that involves their only child.  Cortaz creates a man in a midlife crisis who looks at any woman in a skirt.  When Bernardo attracts the comely 25-year-old Rosa, he’s on top of the world and back to his sexual youth. Openly taking chances and bragging to his best friend Wander (Paulo Tiefenthaler), he’s open season for a smart chick who can take him for a ride.

Leandra Leal as Rosa

Leandra Leal as Rosa

But, the real star and stunner is Leandra Leal in the role as a reckless Rosa who when she finds out that Bernardo is married, it doesn’t stop her from still thinking of a future with him.  She’s an out of work telemarketer, lives with her mother and father, and at a dead end in her young life.  Bernardo has lit her up with his torrid sex and she’s going to ride the train as long as she can.  Leal’s firecracker performance is by far one of the best I’ve seen this year both foreign and domestic.

A Wolf at the Door has not been rated by the MPAA but contains language, sex, nudity, graphic violence and smoking. This is not a film that should be seen by anyone under 18. The film spools out in the Portuguese language with English subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Well written, directed and performed the story’s an adult nail-biter. (A)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Thalita Carauta, Juliano Cazarré, Milhem Cortaz
Directed/Writer: Fernando Coimbra
Genre: Drama, Crime
MPAA Rating: Unrated but contains Language, explicit sex, and violence
Running Time:  1 hr 40 min
Release Date: July 25, 2014
Distributed by: Outsider Pictures
Subtitles: in Brazilian Portuguese, with English subtitles

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