IT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS OF MEDIDA PROVISÓRIA!
Lázaro Ramos may be a name you probably are not familiar with, but in Brazil, it’s a name that is stuck in the minds of many for his performative roles in O Homem Que Copiava, Carandirú and Madame Satã. He is a chameleon while performing and he already showed some power behind the camera in some occasions. But in Executive Order, in his mother-tongue Medida Provisória, he rises to become one of Brazil’s most visionary authors who isn’t afraid to overstep some lines in order to tell a heartbreaking social tale which will resonate to all those who suffered from racism and racial discrimination.
Medida Provisória puts us in the middle of a dystopian, not-too-distant future, where the Brazilian government created an executive order that demands all inhabitants of African descendance to be deported back to Africa, creating chaos and protests all around the country. We meet our heroes, in the form of How to Get Away with Murder‘s Alfred Enoch as António, a successful lawyer, Capitu, his wife and professional doctor, and André (celebrated musician Seu Jorge) as António’s cousin and activist blogger. They are the last ones standing in a city that ruthlessly begins to capture and take away all the black families and residents using excessive police force. A modern day purge that ignites a desperate urge to escape the oppressive regime, forcing the remaining survivors and refugees to take shelter in local bunkers where they think about their next move.
Medida Provisória is something we could easily say that came from Spike Lee‘s mind, who clearly was an influence in Ramos’ creative process. There are narrative mechanisms that feel scary and remind us of the not-too-distant past of a Trump-governed United States and all the race-driven protests that took place in his final months of ruling. That immediately creates a question in our minds: is Brazil a country that is also being affected by systemic and explicit racism? One may think this reality would be far from real due to Brazil’s positive vibes and cheerful way of living, but under the administration of Jair Bolsonaro, discrimination and hate crimes have been rising substantially throughout the country. Medida Provisória happens to be a reminder that racism is still very present in Brazilian society and adapting this brave play by Aldri Anunciação “Namibia, no!“, it takes bold action in portraying the consequences of a totalitarian regime rising from the grave; but the film does not focus itself exclusively on these horrific circumstances, but also in the resiliance of the African-Brazilian community and the historical surviving skills that are deeply rooted in their blood. Lead by an extremely talented cast, Medida Provisória is one of the bravest films in SXSW‘s lineup this year, even though it could add more material to enhance the inevitable painful consequences of living under such a terrifying experience.
The comedy nuances and the dramatic impact of the performances turn Medida Provisória into a cinematic enjoyable production. While Alfred Enoch is clearly becoming a more mature and dramatically intense actor, Seu Jorge carries with him all the characteristics of a joyful Brazilian citizen: patriotic, flamboyant and always with a good sense of humor; and Taís Araújo, Ramos’ real life companion, brings the feminine perspective the film needs in order to stay faithful to its roots. If not for the talented and dedicated cast, Medida Provisória would not be as impactful as it is, bringing audiences to the center of the conflict and develop an instant empathic connection with the characters. There are a lot of references in Ramos’ approach to modern day political environment towards human rights, making it more believable and exciting. Despite being too short and not too profound in some essential issues, Medida Provisória is a film that takes a bold risk by imagining a modern day society that is still driven by archaic and oppressive ideals and a government that cares more about social media than being respectful to its own flesh and blood citizens. Lázaro Ramos creates this social narrative that feels too close to a very scary reality and is brave enough to make you reflect on the hurtful racial misconceptions of an ill-informed and entitled caucasian majority.
Even if you don’t like Medida Provisória due to its flaws, at least it will leave you thinking that racism is unfortunately still very present in our current society and that stories like Medida Provisória are not yet far from being relevant to this day. Therefore, for this brave cinematic exercise, Lázaro Ramos and all the team involved in its creation, will absolutely have the respect and visibility they deserve.
CineAddiction will have film festival reviews written in English to respect and endorse the festival norms. The Portuguese version will arrive later and will be featured in our social media.
You can read other reviews here.
Title: Executive Order
Original Title: Medida Provisória
Director: Lázaro Ramos
Duration: 104 min.
Trailer | Medida Provisória