GFF’20 — A Product of its Time, ‘Three Summers’ Offers a Compelling Look into Contemporary Brazil

The day-to-day of a luxury mansion and its inhabitants changes drastically over three years. The rich family who owns the property dissolves over a corruption scandal, leaving their employees waiting for news that never seem to arrive. Madá (Regina Casé), the main housekeeper, tries her best to establish a routine amidst the chaos, juggling her own personal burdens and the ones of the people around her with an unshakeable positive attitude. 

The stark reality shown onscreen is the direct product of the current political climate in Brazil. Three Summers wisely chooses to focus on those often left unnoticed by the media and the general public. Whilst the high profile, white-collared criminals promptly navigate towards the easy way out, the people who dedicated their lives to maintaining these lavish households and lifestyle are suddenly left without a clue of what the future holds.  

Regina Casé is the film. The actress, who has portrayed a range of similar characters throughout her career, delivers a tender yet visceral performance. Madá – despite all misfortunes – manages to take every single day as it comes, opting for concentrating on the hope of a better tomorrow than the sorrows of a bleak yesterday. A strong-willed, ambitious woman, she gracefully takes on this leadership role without ever letting uncertainty sink the boat. 

At a time in history where Paulo Guedes, the Brazilian Economy Minister, publicly declares that the unprecedented high value of the dollar (currently at almost 5 to 1 against the Brazilian real) is a good thing because “Housemaids were going to Disneyland”, having a character such as Madá brought to the centre of the screen is beyond important. Three Summers is a relevant societal study constructed by Sandra Kogut, which heavily benefits from the brilliance of its main star. As a piece of film-making, however, it is not as effective. 

There is little to be dissected apart from the remarkable protagonist. The script is a direct response to its time but does little technically when it comes to building a captivating narrative. The one moment when Three Summers fully manages to build an emotional connection with its audience is when it finally chooses to explore Madá’s  past. In this brief, poignant scene lays the answer to what the film could have been. I guess all there’s left is to wonder. 

3 Summers screened at Glasgow Film Festival 2020 on March 7th & 8th

by Rafaela Sales Ross

Rafaela Sales Ross is a proud Brazilian currently living in Scotland. She has a Masters in Film and Visual Culture, and has been diving deep into the portrait of suicide on film for a few years now. Rafa, as she likes to be called, loves Harold and MaudeThe Before TrilogyThe Broken Circle Breakdown, Kleber Mendonça Filho and pretty much anything with either Ruth Gordon or Javier Bardem in it. You can find her on both Twitter and Letterboxd @rafiews

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