By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Brazil’s entry for Oscar’s Best International Feature is a powerful and tragic glimpse at human history. Because our world has been mostly male-dominated, there are many stories out there concerning this impact on the lives of women. Though this particular story is fictional, it definitely rings true in that the folly of men has oppressed the lives and happiness of women in our world. This intimate portrait of two sisters is a tragic example of the effects toxic masculinity has had on any culture.

The setting is 1950s Brazil, and two close sisters get torn apart when a domineering father wields an iron fist and a stone-cold heart when it comes to his daughters’ upbringing. Guida Gusmão (Julia Stockler) seeks and pursues sexual freedom and a life on her own terms while her meek sister Eurídice (Carol Duarte) desires a career as a concert pianist. These dreams and desires definitely clash with their father Antônio’s staunchly conservative ideals. When Guida’s rebelliousness goes too far for her father to handle, the daughter is banished by him and the two close sisters are separated.

Based on the novel The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão by Martha Batalha, screenwriters Murilo Hauser, Inés Bortagaray, and writer/director Karim Aïnouz have made a powerful, emotional and tragic movie with Invisible Life. The movie is gorgeously shot, solidly written and superbly acted. The movie may be a bit of a downer, and a rather frustrating one at that, but it serves as a necessary reminder of the oppression of women by men that occurred and often continues to happen on a global scale.

The movie gives the sad perspective of the women affected by the prideful control by a patriarchal society and how their happiness is literally crushed and destroyed. The movie is an exceptional tragedy that channels the melodrama of Douglas Sirk, but without overplaying it. It is a mostly somber piece that cries out in frustration and pain for all women who have suffered under similar circumstances.

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