The fortunes of the Brazilian film industry seem to be in a continuous flux. Whilst Brazil is a country which has produced memorable works of cinema since the 1930s, undoubtedly it was in the 1960s when they had their richest period. The Given Word, Barren Lives, Entranced Earth and Black God, White Devil were only the tip of the iceberg. This century has seen leaner pickings. However, City of God, Neighbouring Sounds, Bus 174 and Elite Squad have been bright sparks. Gabriel Mascaro’s 2015 film Neon Bull is another.
Iremar (Juliano Cazarré) is a bull wrangler who works for a company which transports bulls from rodeo to rodeo. However, he dreams of becoming a fashion designer and making women’s clothing. He practices by making Galega (Maeve Jinkings), a dancer and their driver, elaborate outfits. They’re accompanied on their travels by her precocious daughter Cacá (Alyne Santana) and the buffoonish Zé (Carlos Pessoa).
Neon Bull is a poetic drama which mixes one man’s fantasy with the rather brutal life of the rodeo. Iremar’s unusual dream plays out in luscious colours in an almost dream-like tableau. This is in stark contrast to the hyper-macho world he lives in. Mascaro focuses on the thinly-knit relationship between the small group, who have little in common except for their shared struggle to eke out a living. Neon Bull shows a side of Brazil you don’t normally see. A film made with great humanity, honesty and panache.
Neon Bull is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Second Run on 16th April.