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Marighella So Brutal So Disturbingly Entertaining

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Marighella So Brutal So Disturbingly Entertaining 5

Marighella(Portuguese, Netflix)

Starring  Seu Jorge ,Adriana Esteves, Bruno Gagliasso and Humberto Carrão

Directed  by Wagner Moura

Rating: *** ½

I will be honest. I was  stunned by  the torture scenes in this epic film. The closest parallel  I can think of is  Vetrimaaran’s  vicious  Tamil masterpiece Visaranai where men are tortured  to near-death  in police  interrogation for petty crimes, or a confession of them  , the truth be damned.

 In Marighella( if you play around with  the title it sounds aptly  like ‘mar-gela’ in Hindi) the cause is much bigger  than a  snatched gold chain. Here the country is  at stake . This is Brazil in  the 1960s and these are wildly  impetuous men  fighting  military dictatorship. Calling themselves true patriots  Marighella(Seu Jorge)  and his  band of incredibly  brave  men  wage  a battering-ram war against  the  despotic  militia.Brazil in this  ultra-violent films  resembles  Sicily in  the  Godfather.

 I have absolutely  no  quibbles  with  the  drama  and  its portrayal  of  civil conflict in the context of a tyrannical regime. What  troubles  me is that the tyranny is  embodied in one personification  of evil, an  unfathomably  sadistic  cop named Lucio(Bruno Gagliasso) who  seems to derive great  pleasure in  torturing political prisoners to death,prolonging their torture to  breaking  point.For us the audience, that is.

 In one of  the  later sequences when one of Miraghella’s closest comrades Jorge(Jorge  Paz)  is captured  the  torture is so   extensively  brutal that I  had to look away.  Bloody revolutions are  not  for  the  weak –hearted. Neither is this  film. It doesn’t spare us the violence that  underlines all  opposition to  military regimes.  But I must confess  the regime in  this  film  remains largely faceless and  violent while the  rebels are  perpetually valorous  patriotic  courageous and even funny individuals.

The  jokes about Marighella’s  wig  never end. And his  sense  of humour never deserts him even as his rebellious army dwindles. My favourite non-violent  sequence is the one where  Marighella tells  his  priest-comrade  that  he wants  him to  sleep with  an army general’s wife to extract information  from her.As  the  priest’s face turns ashen , Miraghella  burst out laughing.

To  the  film’s credit the  family life of some  of  the rebels  is well etched  into the  blueprint  violence.  But honestly, what remains  with us is  the endless  bloodshed and  brutality, all in  the name  of political freedom. It is  freedom hard earned . But worth it.  That’s not exactly how I felt about the  film. Although the  fights are impressively choreographed they  belong to gangster cinema.

Narcos actor Wagner Moura turns director  with a  stylish action thriller with shootouts on streets and in a movie theatre dominating the drama. I am not too sure how much of this  is history.  But it makes one helluva riveting  yarn  full of sound and  fury, hopefully  signifying  something. The  performances are  magnetic  , but only when the actors are  killing or  getting killed. And  therein lies the problem.

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