Sunday, January 21, 2007

Movie Review: Brazil 4 ½ Stars

Director and ex-Monty Pythoner, Terry Gilliam is arguably the most consistently inventive filmmaker working in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy films. His incomparable visual style and unflaggingly-determined approach to the art and craft of motion pictures produces thematically complex allegories that teeter between the horrific and the hilarious. Brazil is among his best, the culmination of ideas he toyed with in the Python films and his earlier Time Bandits, gelled in a David & Goliath tale set in a futuristic dystopia.

Sam Lowrey (Jonathan Pryce) is a government statistician working under dismal conditions for the Orwellian Ministry of Information. When reality becomes oppressive, Sam disappears into a cumulus-clouded fantasy world where he is transformed into a winged superhero, perpetually rescuing a beautiful mystery woman (Kim Greist), her diaphanous robes and long blonde hair flowing in the wind.

Back in the Real World, the computer that controls everything malfunctions, accidentally ordering the assassination of an innocent citizen. Investigating the error, Sam meets Jill Layton, the mystery girl who inhabits his dreams. Jill knows Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), the terrorist the computer was supposed to target for execution. Sam’s association with Tuttle incurs the judgment of duty-bound bureaucrat Jack Lint (Michael Palin), the man responsible for administering state-sanctioned lobotomies to wayward citizens.

Alternately spooky and outrageously funny, Brazil is Gilliam at his finest, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality and leaving the audience with retrospection rather than easy answers.

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