Cinema is one of the most liberating experiences one can have. The first filmmaker who deeply understood this issue was Alfred Hitchcock. He couldn’t bear moralists; on the contrary, he would challenge them. He knew that people went to the cinema in order to watch a crime, to indulge in a sin, to allow violence into their lives in a cathartic way. Being in the dark helps the audience to liberate their instincts. To see and not to be seen is a sine qua non condition for pleasure. The importance of the look and voyeurism in Hitchcock’s opus is crucial: he allows his audience to commit a crime by proxy.
To My Beloved is a tropical response to the freedom of voyeurism. Fernando (Fernando Alves Pinto) is a quiet and introspective widower, who raises his son by himself. Every night, while the boy sleeps, he recalls his lost love by sorting her personal belongings, such as clothes and VHS tapes. He is also a paranoid fetishist, who works for the police as a photographer. His world is naturally ruled by interpreting crimes and photos.
The movie relies on images (and less on dialogues) because the lead character is a photographer. There are similarities with Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954), where framed pictures standing on a piece of furniture explain that James Stewart’s character is a photographer who suffered a car accident, and that his window is his view to the world. To My Beloved opens with a view of the living room with pictures of a dead mother and the rest of the family. This decision to “tell with images” prevails throughout the movie, while the suspense and the accurate timing entrance the audience. Fernando discovers that his wife betrayed him and he decides to run after her lover. It is incredibly easy to find him, because Fernando has access to the police files and Salvador (Lourinelson Vladmir) has a police record.
The filmmaker makes audiences switch allegiances throughout the movie. They know Fernando wants revenge, they know he has a gun, so how and when the crime is going to happen? Just like Hitchcock, the 37-year-old Brazilian director Aly Muritiba plays mind games and tones down tragedy with comic devices. For example, Fernando befriends with Salvador’s daughter, and the girl takes off her top in a car. Fernando asks whether she is sure this is what she wants to do, obviously referring to losing her virginity. But then there is a twist.
Muritiba does not underestimate the cognitive abilities of his viewers. He poses many questions to them, such as: If Fernando feigns Christianity in order to get closer to his wife’s lover, will then he regret his crime? After all, he is setting for himself a healthier routine. The film has plenty of situations that instigate curiosity, transferring the character’s obsession to the public. Fernando Alves Pinto’s performance is heady and rich.
To My Beloved premiered at the 39th São Paulo International Film Festival last year and will be in Brazilian cinemas on March 31st. The film is now seeking distributors in Europe and elsewhere.
Watch the film trailer below: