A 16-year-old loner goes by the handle Mr. Tambourine Man in honor of his hero, Bob Dylan, but even as he ponders attending a faraway Dylan concert, his real obsession is with the dark, romantic online videos of a couple from his own town. The girl, the sister of his best friend, recently died, and the reappearance of her charismatic, sinister boyfriend fills Mr. Tambourine Man with fascination, longing and dread. First-time feature director Esmir Filho and actor/screenwriter Ismael Caneppele adapted this enigmatic coming-of-age drama from Caneppele’s own novel with an emphasis on mood over incident. The story unfolds elliptically, the reasons for Mr. Tambourine Man’s disquiet and the malaise infecting the entire town only gradually becoming clear. There are shades of David Lynch in the tale’s dreaminess as well as location: a fog-shrouded town in southern Brazil, where the cheeriness of a local festival is less a respite from general despair than a mask that hides it. The drama’s gorgeous widescreen images emphasize the surreal isolation of the place—a remoteness that suggests no hope of escape and only adds fuel to Mr. Tambourine Man’s angst. Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize and Best Film at the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, Filho’s mysterious and melancholy debut is as intriguing as it is unforgettable. —Pam Grady
Nice surprise. Emotional but never sappy. Beautifully shot. Evocative mood, right pacing, strong sense of time and place. Great use of nonactors: the old couple is lovely. Interesting soundtrack (and good sound, which is always nice to hear in Brazilian movies). The "lyrical" blog post voiceovers are cringeworthy, though — but this is usually true of teenage writing, so in the end they also did a good job on this.