The Supreme Happiness / A Suprema Felicidade| 02 September, 2011
Everything about The Supreme Happiness is “looking back in time”. First of all the ﬁlm starts in post-war, late 40s, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Second of all, it is ﬁlm-maker Arnaldo Jabor’s big come-back after his last movie Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar was produced 25 years ago. Since then Arnaldo Jabor has become a prominent ﬁgure as a political commentator for Brazilian TV Globo, and a columnist in newspapers and magazines.
The Supreme Happiness is a “good to watch” ﬁlm but I wouldn’t exaggerate and say it is a “must watch”. It deﬁnitely has its ups and downs, it is a bit slow paced and over dramatized in some parts. It is clear to see that most of the movie’s problems are related to the fact that Arnaldo Jabor stayed away from flm-making for almost 25 years. I am not saying he has lost his touch, but the ﬁlm has some cliche moments and other problems that actually don’t really make you feel… supremely happy.
It all starts in 1945, at the end of the Second World War in a family house in Rio de Janeiro, centering on it’s occupants,, and more precisely the characters Paulo, from 8 to 19 years of age, his parents Soﬁa and Marcos, and his grandfather Noel.
The ﬁlm is permeated with many ﬂashbacks and ﬂash-forwards showing the troubled relationship of Paulo’s mum and dad, played by actors Mariana Lima and Dan Stulbach. I have to mention that some of the scenes between the couple were too theatrical and compromised the result of the ﬁlm. The dialogue and the acting almost made me cringe sometimes, it was so exaggeratedly dramatic.
On the other hand, the relationship between Paulo – played by three different actors in three different stages of his life – and his bohemian musician grandfather, played by the magniﬁcent actor Marco Nanini, guarantee some good moments to The Supreme Happiness.
Apart from Brazil’s much-loved actor Marco Nanini’s participation, other guest – and equally special – appearances can provide the viewer with some incredibly funny moments. Two of these moments happen at Paulo’s traditional catholic boys-only school, when the two priest-teachers played by legendary actors Ary Fontoura and Jorge Loredo (a.k.a Ze Bonitinho) steal the show talking about masturbation to the pre-adolescent boys.
The two above mentioned scenes are the deﬁnite highlights of this ﬁlm. But some other scenes such as those with old-school actress Elke Maravilha, Paulo’s German grandmother, and the ones involving the “popcorn guy” Bene, played by the excellent Joao Miguel, reminded me of the good old Brazilian cinema and the funny chanchadas.
However, director Arnaldo Jabor opted for more drama than comedy and these two scenes were only exceptions in this supremely dramatic ﬁlm. A film telling Paulo’s story, exploring the complicity with his grandfather Noel, his friendship with his sexually confused best friend Cabecao, his ﬁrst sexual experiences and the growing love for Marilyn, his troubled relationship with his mum and dad, his mother’s mental deterioration, a sudden rapprochement with his father and Paulo’s sadness watching his grandfather’s inevitable aging process.
Like I said before it feels like a good and entertaining ﬁlm sometimes but it is also a bit cliched and annoying in some parts of the ﬁlm, especially during the (long) musical scenes. Although the public and the critics expected a lot more from this comeback, overall it must be said that it’s good to have Arnaldo Jabor back in the ﬁlm-making industry, even though the ﬁlm didn’t reach all of those expectations.
The Supreme Happiness is showing as part of the 3rd Brazilian Film Festival of London. Find out more about the festival here.
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