“A long time ago…in a city far far away…I had a future,” the “hero” of the Brazilian thriller “2 Rabbits” narrates.
Edgar (Fernando Alves Pinto) is handsome, well-off, loved by his restaurateur dad, and known — as a comical montage of testimonies tell us — by many. And the story he has to tell — of accidents and loss, guilt and redemption, gangsters and the corrupt system that keeps them on the streets of Sao Paolo — is complex. He has this scheme to kill “two rabbits with one shot.”
But “2 Rabbits” is a movie with no heroes, just a lot of unsavory folks painted in various shades of gray.
A car crash that kills a mother and child opens the film. And as it progresses and the story circles back around to that event, we meet the medicated femme fatale prosecutor (Alessandra Negrini), her defense attorney husband, a gangster (Marat Descartes), a mugger who might come in handy and a political boss looking to get paid any time anything happens in Sao Paolo.
“Justice is…peculiar in Brazil,” Edgar explains. He has dodged it himself, but he has a scheme — involving a bomb — to get a little justice for himself and others let down by the system.
Writer-director Afonso Poyart rode this cryptic, hallucinatory action picture into a job directing “Solace,” with Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Colin Farrell.
The prosecutor has stress-driven blackouts. When you and your husband are conspiring to get murderers released and regularly dealing with the lawless as peers, you’re bound to have paranoid visions of slaughter.
Poyart’s lurid visuals, sea of characters and the turgid and subtitled Portuguese dialogue make the picture hard to follow and even harder to swallow, at times. Edgar is no better than those he wants “justice” from, and one person who teams up with him makes no logical sense.
But the electronic (magical, almost) triggering device for Edgar’s bomb makes for some tense stand-offs. And you have to trust that Poyart feels as uncertain about Edgar’s place as “hero” in the tale as you do.
It’s not just “2 Rabbits” he’s concerned with nailing here. It’s a rabbit warren of venality only a lot of mayhem will clear up. And if it’s not wholly satisfying and righteous, well, welcome to Brazil.
MPAA Rating: unrated, with graphic gun violence, sexual situations
Credits: Written and directed by Afonso Poyart. An XLRator Media release.
Running time: 1:41