Reaching for the Moon (Flores Raras)
Release year: 2013
Director: Bruno Barreto
Screenwriter: Matthew Chapman, Julia Sayres, Carolina Kotscho, Carmen L. Oliveria (based on the book ‘Flores raras e banalíssimas’ by)
Starring: Miranda Otto, Glória Pires, Tracy Middendorf, Marcello Airoldi, Lola Kirke, Tânia Costa, Marianna Mac Niven, Marcio Ehrlich
In 1951 renowned American poet Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) travels to Brazil to visit her old friend Mary (Tracy Middendorf). Originally planning to stay two weeks she ends up staying until 1967 as she falls deeply in love with Mary’s partner, the architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires), and embarks on a love triangle that brings both inspiration and tragedy.
Brazilian biographical drama Flores Raras (Reaching for the Moon) is more than just that. It is a love story, a story of loss and about how the balance of power sometimes shifts in a relationship, but most of all it is about the people. Barreto perfectly balances the power that his leading characters so struggle with, making this about Elizabeth and Lota, never about either. Two women, at once unalike and alike, both driven by passion and inspiration and both creative souls. Otto (What Lies Beneath, 2000) and Pires (O Quatrilho, 1995) deliver powerful and engaging performances. Otto giving a clear insight into the poet’s struggle with alcoholism and showing her growing strength as Lota’s love inspires her to succes and a stronger selfworth while Pires deals with the strong Lota who slowly grows more obsessed and weaker. destroyed by her own passion. Inbetween stands Mary, played by a great Middendorf (Just Add Water, 2008), who perfectly captures the despair and frustration that leads to the hard decisions Mary makes with nearly underplayed perfection. But besides the three power performances that the movie evovles around, it also plays as a love letter to the award-winning poetry by Bishop, never sounding better than when read by Otto with the Brazil nature in the background. While watching Bishop be inspired and thereafter work hard to put the words right together, you feel you get a realistic view of the birth of a poem and enjoy the end result that much more. If you are not familiar with Bishop’s work, this will leave you hungry for more, if you are, it will make you long to revisit her words. A beautiful and incredibly well-played love story, Reaching for the Moon is a movie that deserves a much wider audience.
The movie is produced by Lucy Barreto who met Bishop and Soares in 1959 where the connection between them left an unforgettable impression on her. As soon as Carmen Oliveira published ‘Rare and Commonplace Flowers’ about the love affais she instantly bought the film rights and started the long process it was to convince her son Bruno Barreto to direct.
Picture copyright: Reel Pictures