All the Dead Ones (Todos os Mortos)
Slavery had been abolished in Brazil for a decade by 1899, when Todos os Mortos opens. This should set the scene for a worthy examination of the lingering (and still very much prevailing) class hierarchy and the subsequent social and cultural conflict between the privileged and those who once unwillingly served them. Sadly, Todos os Mortos doesn’t do so with any great insight, and while this dour work is a noble failure, it’s a failure
The women of the Soares family have found their fortunes greatly reduced. They once owned a sprawling coffee plantation, only profitable with slave labour, but now they live in Sao Paulo, in a home that is more modest than what they were once accustomed to, though still on the stately side. After the death of their maid (a former slave who willingly continued her service, despite her freedom), the health of the family matriarch Isabel (Thaia Perez) begins to decline. Her mentally unbalanced daughter Ana (Carolina Bianchi) becomes convinced that African rituals once practised by their plantation slaves might hold the answer for her mother’s recovery.
This elegantly sombre effort, co-directed by Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra, appears to have a lot on its mind, with its inhabitants advocating interesting themes via their dialogue, but it all feels rather perfunctory and doesn’t lead to any particular type of awareness. Todos os Mortos briefly comes to life with the arrival of Iná (Mawusi Tulani), a former slave who conditionally agrees to perform the necessary cleansing and healing rituals. Sadly, this energy is frustratingly fleeting.
The film features a number of inconsistencies – things which might appear to be a technical error on the part of the filmmakers. These become more prevalent – and obviously entirely intentional – culminating in an ending which is entrancing in its own way, but which doesn’t compensate for the plodding journey required to get there.
All the Dead Ones (Todos os Mortos) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for All the Dead Ones (Todos os Mortos) here: