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Laramie Movie Scope: Bacurau

Killers attack the wrong village

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 18, 2021 – Cut off from water, power, communication and access to the outside world, the remote village of Bacurau (nighthawk in Portugese) finds itself under seige by a mysterious well-armed group that seems determined to kill all the villagers.

But Bacurau, located in western Pernambuco, in the Brazilian sertão, is a village of tough and resourceful people who just happen to have some friends in the local criminal underworld. This is the basic conflict in this modern day western that plays out a bit like the historic battle that took place in Northfield, Minnesota on September 7, 1896, depicted in the movie “The Long Riders,” among others.

Prior to watching this film, I was under the impression that it was a science fiction film. There are aliens in it, that is people from other countries, and there are surveillance drones that look like flying saucers. The opening scene of the earth viewed from space also makes it look like an alien invasion, too. Maybe that's where the science fiction references came from in articles that refer to this film. In actuality, this is more like a western.

The best known actor in the film is probably Udo Kier, who plays Michael, leader of the killers. Kier, who has very distinctive eyes, is probably best known for his role as a vampire in the Marvel superhero movie “Blade” (1998). The killers are a loose group of hunters, mostly from the United States. They appear to be on a hunting trip, and human beings are the game they hunt.

Through some unknown means, they have removed Bacurau from online maps, blocked telecommunications, cut off power to the town, as well as road access. The villagers quickly realize that they are under attack. Among the first to be killed are friends of a local bandit, Lunga (Silvero Pereira) and his gang.

Pacote (Thomas Aquino) is the only man in the village who knows where Lunga's hideout is, so he goes there to give his gang the news about the murder of his friends. He asks for Lunga's help. Lunga and his gang arrive at the village and are welcomed as heroes.

There are some indications of a violent past associated with this village, including guns on display at the local museum. There are more people than usual at the village because of the funeral of a 94-year-old patriarch, Carmelita. Among the visitors is Teresa (Bárbara Colen) who hitches a ride into town aboard a water truck driven by Erivaldo (Rubens Santos) in order to attend the funeral.

The murder of a nine-year-old boy by the invaders galvanizes the town. They dig in, literally, and prepare a warm welcome for the attackers who assume they will be able to walk into Bacurau and slaughter people at will.

The killers seem to be a group of misfits, tourists willing to murder people because they are bored, or angry, or just because they like to kill people. In any case, they have a lot more money than morals or humanity. There is more than a hint of racism and classism in their choice of targets.

The killers quarrel amongst themselves, and some even end up shooting each other. They argue about the morality of killing children, but in the end, they seem to have no real moral code. There is plenty of action, and blood in this movie, also a lot of nudity.

There are indications in the film that the attack on the village may be connected to local politics involving a water rights dispute. The villagers despise a corrupt local politician, Tony Junior (Thardelly Lima) who tries to bribe them with entertainment and food deliveries. They are having none of it.

This film establishes interesting characters, such as Dr. Domingas (Sonia Braga of “Kiss of the Spider Woman”) a feisty woman with a drinking problem and a fiery temper. It is well acted. While the plot did not make a lot of sense to me, it does work on the level of being a satisfying action and morality tale. This film rates a B. The dialog is in Portugese and English.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2021 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]