Aquarius (2016)

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Released 24-May-2017

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 140:23 (Case: 146)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Kleber Mendonça Filho
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Sonia Braga
Humberto Carrao
Irandhir Santos
Zoraide Coleto
Maeve Jinkings
Pedro Queiroz
Buda Lira

Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Aquarius is the name of the apartment block situated across from the beach at Recife, Brazil where most of the events in Aquarius occur. The film starts with a sequence set in 1980; at the apartment of Clara (Sonia Braga), her husband and children, family and friends are celebrating the 70th birthday of Aunt Lucia, although it seems it is also a double celebration as Clara has survived a brush with breast cancer. Thirty years later, Clara is a widow living in the same apartment with her friend and employee Ladjane (Zoraide Coleto) although now they are the only occupants of the apartment block as all the other apartments have been purchased by a company that intends to demolish Aquarius and build a high rise development. But they cannot start until Clara sells, which she has no intention of doing despite the offers and inducements of the outwardly charming Diego (Humberto Carrao), who heads the redevelopment project.

     Clara’s adult life and her apartment in Aquarius are totally interlinked as she continues her normal routine, swimming at the beach and talking to lifeguard Roberval (Irandhir Santos), going out with her friends, interacting with her older brother Antonio (Buda Lira), his wife and his children, including her favourite nephew Tomas (Pedro Queiroz), and looking after her grandson for her daughter Ana Paula (Maeve Jinkings), who is among those who urge Clara to sell the apartment. But Clara will not, despite the building company resorting to some low acts and dirty tricks. Clara may be in her 60’s but in her life she has learned a few lessons, and has a few tricks of her own.

     Aquarius is an intelligent, life affirming film about life, love, family, memories, overcoming adversity and connections, propelled along by a stunning performance by Sonia Braga. She has been around for a while and has 84 credits listed on the IMDb, including Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985); in Aquarius she is seldom off screen and delivers a bravura performance as the 65 year old retired music critic whose very existence is put to the test.

     Aquarius is on the surface a film about one woman standing up for herself and her home against greedy and unscrupulous developers and the ending is positive and life affirming, the opposite of the recent Russian film Leviathan on a similar theme where the ending was tragic. However, Aquarius is subtle and intelligent, a film of many layers that draws one effortlessly into its world and makes its points thoughtfully and without preaching.

     Aquarius was an official selection for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2016 and the film, and its star, have won numerous awards in Europe, South America, North America as well as in Australia, where it won best film at the Sydney Film Festival. It was not, however, nominated as Brazil’s entry for the Oscars, its supporters alleging government interference as Aquarius, albeit gently, does have something to say about connections, corruption and the influence of property developers.

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Transfer Quality


     Aquarius is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a fairly soft looking print although close-ups of faces have strong detail, slowing every line. Colours are nicely natural except for occasional digital yellowish tinge under lights. Blacks and shadow detail are good. I noticed no marks but aliasing is present on roof tiles, power lines and, at one place, the lines on Sonia Braga’s face while a number of scenes look quite glary.

    The layer change at 78:47 resulted in a pause near the end of a sex scene.

    The burnt in English subtitles are in a clear white font. I noticed no errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio is Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448.

     This is a film of dialogue which thankfully is clear and easy to hear. There is not a lot for the surrounds and rears to do except deliver ambience such engines, rain and music, plus voices and music during the family party, club scenes and the sequence with the activity upstairs from Clara’s apartment. The subwoofer supported the music, belting out the bass during Queen’s We Will Rock You and other songs, as well giving some depth to other party scenes.

     There is no credited original score but the film relies heavily on music and songs by a range of Latin and South American artists including Amar Azul, Maria Bethania and Roberto Carlos plus a couple of songs by Queen.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer (1:33)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US DVD is due for release mid-July. It is listed as including an interview with director Kleber Mendonca Filho and a making of as well as the trailer so is the better version if you are set up as Region 1 compatible.


     Aquarius is a beautiful, thoughtful film that deserved the awards it has received around the world. Likewise Sonia Braga, who delivers a stunning and natural performance. Running at 140 minutes it is a film with universal themes of life, love and family that draws one into its world and does not feel the least bit bloated or overlong. A must see for anyone interested in quality world cinema. A warning though: the film has a justified R rating for “High Impact sexualised nudity”, graphic scenes which to me feel tonally at odds with the rest of the film.

     The video and audio are fine. A trailer is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, July 07, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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