Review: Madame Satã (2002)

Madame Satã (2002)

Directed by: Karim Ainouz | 105 minutes | drama | Actors: Lázaro Ramos, Marcelia Cartaxo, Flavio Bauraqui, Fellipe Marques, Renata Sorrah, Emiliano Queiroz, Giovana Barbosa, Ricardo Blat, Guilherme Piva, Marcelo Valle, Floriano Peixoto, Gero Camilo

‘Madame Satã’ is not a film to make you happy. The main character wanders through rancid alleys, lives in dark bars full of prostitutes, alcoholics and freaks and lives in a ruin. The film hardly offers tender moments; it is mostly rough and raw. For example, João Francisco dos Santos also known as Madame Satã regularly scolds his friends and overflows with aggression in bed. The director portrays these sexual escapades up close. Using fluorescent lighting. And with the microphone on ten. When Dos Santos kisses his friend Renatinho (Fellipe Marques), the clunk can be heard from miles away.

Lázaro Ramos completely takes on the role of Dos Santos: he does not play this unguided projectile, but he is this legendary drag queen. His acting gives the film an extra dimension and makes you keep looking at this heavy fare.

Smoothly, Ramos aka Dos Santos lets a phrase like The bell tolls and the night howls roll off his tongue. He then smashes an opponent to the ground with gusto, rolls a wallet and then strokes a baby’s head. The character he plays is 100 percent unpredictable. This behavior stems from anger. Dos Santos is angry with life itself. Why does he live in poverty? Why does he have to struggle so hard to keep up? Why is there so much injustice in his life?

Dos Santos is suffocating with questions to which he has no answers. He therefore constantly looks provoked into the camera.

It is a pity that he has the same look from start to finish. Despite major events in his life, for example, he ends up in prison and breaks through as an artist, he doesn’t change a bit. And that’s not realistic. It is also a pity that the film gives too little background information about him. It is unclear, for example, whether he has family and what kind of childhood he had. With this data, his explosive behavior might be more understandable. Which would make Dos Santos just a little more sympathetic. Nevertheless, he is nevertheless a fascinating figure.

Karim Ainouz made his directorial debut with his portrait of Dos Santos. He had been active in the film world for some time. For example, he co-wrote the script of ‘Abril Despedaçado’ by Walter ‘Central do Brasil’ Salles. With ‘Madame Satã’, Ainouz has established herself as a promising filmmaker.

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