'Neon Bull' is a film with that defies description. It's simple yet complex, contemplative yet reductive, raw yet tender. It took me to places and showed me the lives of some people and showed me things I have never seen before. Apart from the greatly shot imagery sticks that with you, I really liked the banal yet poetic lifestyle of the bull handler, Iremar who dreams of tailoring fashionable clothes for women.
I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed such a plotless film devoid of any conflict. At the same time as it is a borderline fetishist view of northeast Brazil it also presents us to an amazingly lived in universe where the actors (some of which are fancy soap opera stars) lose themselves completely in their roles. And while it is nothing new and it gives itself to some major arthouse clichés, it does them the right way.
Neon Bull is one of the most exciting films in recent years! With a simple plot, it finds its strength in observing the characters lives, their contradictions, unexpected aspirations and ordinary rituals sublimated and wrapped in surreal contours...Wild, tender, gender bending and strangely titillating, the greatness of the film lies in its inherent poetic symbolism - Man vs Beast, destiny vs desire. Sublime!
Mascaro's sophomore feature delivers a simplistic message through a beautifully shot film and a unique story line that pulls you in from the first image--the message being that man and beast have a much stronger connection than we realize. Its imagery sticks with you; and the banal, yet poetic lifestyle of protagonist Iremar resonates with anyone who has higher aspirations in his or her own life.
To me, this is as sexy as dull. Neon Bull builds an atmosphere of opposites: the rodeo worker that longs to be a fashion designer, the tough woman handling all the tools, the hair-caring stud: but what does it really say? In a film where its aesthetics screams louder than the will to tell stories, what are we really watching? Mascaro screens bodies with dionysian lust, but these bodies lack storytelling - or soul.
In the northeast Brazil, Mascaro gives to us unexpected and conflicting kinds of characters, identities and relationship, showing that there, like a mixed product, can be raised, by the erotic and imaginative forces that typically surround that place, the most unlikely fresh beauty.