Animals loom thoughtfully in director Helvécio Marins Jr’s film. They roam in the background and sometimes dominate the foreground. An exchange between humans is watched with mild interest by a distant cow, not to mention some undernourished chickens, happy pigs and Dora the dog. It certainly bulks up a scene without needing to pay for extras. Animals are everywhere, because Marcelo (Marcelo di Souza) is a farmer, a literal cowboy. But animals are not only a commodity. They’re also his friends, as much as someone can regard another creature a friend before sending them off to become Big Macs.
Querência could easily have gone in an expected direction. Yes, Marcelo loves his animals, but there’s no mawkish sentimentality. Sure, life in rural Brazil presents many adversities, but this isn’t a series of increasingly grim vignettes cynically designed to manipulate an empathetic response. The character’s life unfolds in a series of unassuming scenes as he worries about cattle rustlers (and a cattle theft is depicted in a simple yet unsettling shot), but also the straightforward pleasures of the local rodeo. This is a placid movie that if an audience was to watch without any preconceptions, could rather easily be assumed to be a documentary.
There’s a lightness of touch to Helvécio Marins Jr’s film, but this lightness doesn’t result in a sense of superficiality. These tough men of the land are presented with warmth as they herd cattle, ride cattle, and quibble about the price of chickens, leading to that most nefarious of insults amongst cowboys – to be called a smartypants. The exchanges between Marcelo and his friends are a pleasure to watch, as they scratch their collective heads about why city-dwellers call an evening drinking session “happy hour”, and why such an uncomplicated social occasion warrants a title. Querência is an uncomplicated film that’s like a gentle stroll, perhaps not invigorating, but quietly stimulating.
Homing (Querência) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.