Batsu is eighty-one and loves dancing until dawn to her neighbour Maria do Boi’s drum rhythms. Her husband Feliciano prefers to stay home, drinking cachaça and watching TV. When she finds Feliciano dead one morning, Batsu is forced to rethink her life and forge a new routine.
Batsu spends her days in the company of her grandchildren, but in the evenings she’s disturbed by inexplicable noises around her house. She is convinced these noises are the work of Feliciano, back from the grave to make mischief for her. Memories haunt Batsu, both figuratively and literally. She decides the best thing to do is get rid of Feliciano’s stuff. She packs a suitcase with his remaining belongings and ventures to his brother’s village, intending to leave them there.
Helvécio Marins Jr. and Clarissa Campolina’s thoughtful first feature follows Batsu on her quest while crafting a portrait of life in Brazil’s Sertão region. The filmmakers depict not only Sertão’s physical beauty but also the unique cultural traditions of its people, rarely explored in Brazilian cinema. Drawing on the real-life experiences of their actors and interweaving them with local lore, their film becomes a timeless and magical experience even as we see the contemporary ills that gradually encroach on village life.
Complemented by music and a rich storytelling tradition, Swirl is a testament to the enduring values of the past and a declaration of stubborn optimism toward the future. Exquisitely framed and gorgeously photographed, the film has an elegiac quality, as though everything that passes before the camera is slowly slipping away. –TIFF