Modern romance is a very tricky thing. In the old days, you’d go to a dance or meet someone at the office, but the onset of the internet and mobile technology means that the primary source of relationships now comes via an algorithm. First contact mostly happens online, introducing a whole new element to the concept of dating. Nowadays, we have to take things at face value, which causes problems in Private Desert.
Daniel (Antonio Saboia) is at breaking point. The police officer has been suspended from work following a high-profile incident and spends all his time looking after an elderly parent. The one bright spark in his life has been Sara. They met online and he thinks she’s the one. However, recently she’s stopped responding to him. Doesn’t answer her phone or reply to his messages. Daniel becomes obsessed with finding out why, drops everything and travels across the country to find her.
Private Desert is a febrile relationship drama which plays on the traditional Brazilian concept of masculinity. Daniel is trapped in this world, fulfilling traditional macho stereotypes. It’s when the focus shifts to Sara/Robson’s (Pedro Fasanaro) that Aly Muritiba’s film really comes to life. It’s this skilful two-pronged performance which captures the mood perfectly. Much of Private Desert impresses but Western audiences may struggle to accept Daniel as a sympathetic lead. If you can go with this choice, then Brazil’s Oscar submission will be rewarding.
Private Desert opens at the Quad Cinema, NYC on 26 August and Laemmle Theaters, LA on 9 September.