"Found Memories": Finding Beauty in Backwater Brazil

There's no electricity in the Brazilian village where Found Memories is set, and trains no longer heat up the tracks. For the remaining dozen or so inhabitants, there is just a kind of ritualized waiting, something director Júlia Murat lingers over for the film's first half-hour or so, depicting seemingly small lives with big, slightly color-faded frames and long takes. In particular, Murat establishes the rhythm of the life of Madalena (Sonia Guedes), an old woman with a strict, mostly silent routine who saves all of her warmth for the letters she writes to her dead husband each night. Found Memories draws the viewer into that rhythm — from pre-dawn bread baking to Madalena's prickly interactions with defunct café owner Antonio (Luiz Serra), to their post-squabble coffee and mass — so that when a young woman appears on Madalena's doorstep, she seems to have entered this suspended world along with us. Rita (Lisa E. Fávero) is a backpacking photographer in search of aesthetic bliss. Initially treated like the parasite she appears to be, over the course of this crisp, gracefully inflected meditation on time's passage, Rita develops the interest in her subjects that turns an image into more than stolen light.

 
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