★★★★★ | Futuro Beach

Karim Ainouz’s mesmerising melancholic drama starts and ends in a very similar fashion.

In the opening scenes we see two motor bikers racing across the sand dunes and when they reach the end of the beach discard their bikes and clothes and run off into the high rolling waves. They soon get caught in riptides and despite the efforts of the lifeguards, one of them drowns.

Donato one of the lifeguards is so shaken by his first ever death whilst on patrol, he takes it upon himself to break the sad news to Konrad the swimmer who they had managed to rescue. He is repaid for his kindness by Konrad working out his grief on him sexually. The two men spend the next few days together whilst the authorities search for the missing body. When it’s time to give up on that, neither of them are prepared to let go of each other, so Donato makes the decision to leave his sun-kissed beach in Brazil to try life with Konrad in his native Germany.

In the second chapter of the story that Ainouz has called ‘A Hero Cut in Half’ (the first was ‘The Drowner’s Embrace’) we see the two lovers trying to make a go of urban living in the middle of a dreary winter in a country that is alien to Donato. They almost seem to succeed but Donato obviously misses not only Aryton his younger brother that he was extremely close too and his mother, but he feels he cannot live without a beach. The fact that he doesn’t catch his return flight to Brazil when his visit is over is covered in the third chapter called ‘A German Speaking Ghost’.

It’s 8 years later and Donato has a new life, still swimming, but now as a maintenance diver in a city aquarium. He and Konrad are no longer an item but still important to each other as is apparent when an angry Aryton turns up on his doorstep unannounced. It appears that Donato had abandoned his family when he decided not to return back to Brazil and they have had to fend for themselves ever since. Now all grown up, and with their mother dead, Aryton wants to confront the brother he so idolised and who ruthlessly deserted him without a single word.

Together the three men try and establish some form of forgiveness and reconciliation to be able to move forward. The final scenes are of them in the middle of winter roaring down the fog-drenched Autobahn to a stark desolate beach. It has another kind of beauty totally different from their precious Futuro Beach back home but just as stunning, and it’s where they realise that this is where home is now.

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Ainouz’s movie, co-written with Felipe Braganca, is light on plot as it focuses much more of the sensuality of each moment. There are certain pivotal scenes, which are sparse of dialogue where he allows the camera to remain much longer than the norm with such riveting effect. Whether it be Donato letting off steam dancing rather manically in a club, or when he and Konrad are making rough and passionate sex together, or in the closing scene of the final motorbike ride. It’s also clever that the script is guarded in revealing too much detail or any real insight into the three men and we are simply left to observe and imagine what emotional state they are in at any time.

It is unquestionably a real visual treat from the wild untamed uninviting ocean in Brazil to seeing young Aryton acting out his ‘Speed Racer’ fantasy racing through the deserted streets of Berlin. The acting is astoundingly good with award-winning Brazilian actor Wagner Moura as the over sensitive Donato, handsome German Clemens Schick who’s prior claim to fame was that he played a baddie in ‘Casino Royale’, and young Jesuíta Barbosa, who stole our hearts last year in ‘Tatuagem’ was the bewildered Ayrton.

Futuro Beach is one of those movies that linger with you for days as you run it through your mind time and time again. It’s Karim Ainouz’s fifth feature film. And it’s been 12 years since he gave us ‘Madame Sata’, and this new one is every bit as good, if not better as that. Winner of the Sebastiane Award for Best LGBT film at the San Sebastian Film Festival, it was nominated for a Golden Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival too.

P.S. Interestingly enough Mr. Ainouz is a Brazilian who has now settled in Germany, so maybe there is part of his life in this story too.