Trespasser, The

Director: Beto Brant

Winner of the ‘Best Latin American Feature’ prize at the Sundance Festival, and proof positive that Brazilian cinema is firmly back on the map, The Trespasser is a terrific socio-political thriller about corruption and betrayal. The setting is the teeming city of São Paolo, where Ivan, Estevão and Gilberto are partners in a construction company. When the upright Estevão refuses to approve a contract with a shady government employee, Ivan and Gilberto plot to have him killed and secure a fortune in the process. What they don’t reckon on is that the contract killer from the city slums has sinister ambitions of his own.
The film’s trump card is the extraordinary figure of the assassin, Anisio, who’s played by popular Brazilian rock star Paulo Miklos. With his gaunt appearance and piercing eyes, Anisio is a frightening creation. This totally amoral, ghetto-raised street punk inveigles his way into the company’s business as well as the lives of the middle-classes. He seduces the dead man’s punk daughter and then proceeds to set his paymasters against each other.
Strikingly photographed in harsh, desaturated colours, director Beto Brant’s film moves through brothels, boardrooms and construction sites to paint a vivid portrait of a frantic, corrupt world in which instant gratification is the order of the day. ‘You got appetite? Go for it!’ advises Anisio, who is merely the most sinister operator in town. The film is not cynical or nihilistic, but a raw and urgent report on a society scarred by social and ethical problems. It’s political point is perhaps best summed up in the blistering lyrics of rapper Sabotage, who appears in the film and provides a razor-sharp soundtrack: ‘Society destroys your life/Around a suicide capitalism/Boom!’
Portugal, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 96 mins.

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