MUBI UK film review: Good Manners
Ivan Radford | On 19, Jul 2020
Director: Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas
Cast: Isabél Zuaa, Marjorie Estiano
Watch Good Manners online in the UK: MUBI UK
Let the Right One In meets The Orphanage in this brilliant little Brazilian horror, which follows Clara, a care worker who is hired to look after Ana, the child of a well-off mother living near Sao Paulo.
What ensues is initially a surprisingly intimate relationship, and Isabél Zuaa and Marjorie Estiano bring a warmth to their bond that manages to be passionate and sincere, even as we get unnerving glimpses of something more sinister going on. Things, indeed, do take a turn for the creepy, but not necessarily in the way you expect, and Clara finds herself having to deal with the consequences.
The result is creative and cute, while simultaneously unleashing flashes of gory horror – a tale of growing pains and parental struggles that never loses realism or emotional weight, even as it sinks its teeth into weirder genre elements with relish. It’s stylishly written and directed by Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas, with effects that feel practical and tangible, from well placed fur to clinking handcuffs, sliding wardrobes to angry mobs banging on doors.
Underneath it all is a rich tangled web of threads, from class tensions to being yourself in the face of being considered different to social norms. “You don’t have to mind what people think and say,” Clara tells Ana. “Mind your own life.”
But at its heart is also a compassion between two outsides, and a sense of duty and protection that’s unexpectedly endearing, all of it anchored by Zuaa’s defiantly stoic presence. A wonderfully disturbing fantasy that is destined to become a cult hit.
Good Manners is now available on MUBI UK, as part of a £9.99 monthly subscription.