About Us **
Starring: Thiago Cazado, Rodrigo Bittes, Marina Falcao, Renan Mendes
Directors: Mauro Carvalho, Thiago Cazado
When people fall in love, they often have illusions that their story is somehow momentous or unusual because of the gravity it has to them. We are all at the centre of our own love story and for each of us, that’s a beautiful thing. However, the illusion that Hollywood has created is that these stories deserve to be memorialised in something that reaches beyond ourselves, telling our love story to the world as though it is some great romance that should be remembered long after we are gone. But the reality is, very few people’s stories have any real significance beyond the two people at its centre. And in the Brazilian romance film About Us, this is exactly the case.
Diego (Cazado) is a young filmmaker in love with Matheus (Bittes). They have a brief but passionate affair, wrapped up in the love that they have for each other. But when Diego gets accepted at a film school in California, he is forced to leave Matheus behind, which he looks back on ten years later in an ode to the passion that gave him the motivation he needed.
There is no doubt that there is real chemistry between the two leads. Diego and Matheus crackle with electricity as their sexual attraction blossoms into profound love and initially, the fly-on-the-wall style that the director has assumed does much for making us fall in love with them too. Both characters are adorable for their devotion to each other, but when the voiceover starts going down the route of “but of course we had our problems like any couple”, it starts to feel like stock images from a stock VT about the 2018 hipster ideal of what a young same sex couple is.
After a while, you also start to realise that you know very little about the characters too. Yes, they’re in love with each other and yes, Diego is a filmmaker, but beyond that we know little about what drives them or what they want. And seeing as the film trudges through the overused narrative trope of an older, wiser man looking back on his past, the voiceover is hardly illuminating too. The very point of using narration is to add to the plot more than could be revealed without it, but it does nothing whatsoever to illuminate these flat characters. And in a piece that revolves entirely around its characters, this is a pretty major flaw.
Its bland realism shows everything at the same pace. They talk, they play-fight, they make love, they argue; it plods on at the same level throughout, without peaks, troughs, tension or fun. There is nothing remarkable about this story at all. The director has succeeded in creating a believable relationship on screen, but that’s far more credit to the actors than to anyone else. Thankfully the film is short, because when you come out of the other side, you can’t help but question how this film was intended to enrich the viewer in any way? Because it certainly isn’t entertaining.