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From the Past

Films on the to-do list

  • Armageddon Time
  • Black Widow
  • Chimes at Midnight
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Last Christmas
  • Remember Sunday
  • Shazam! 2
  • Thor: Love and Thunder
  • Spy Guys

Brazil (1985)

Film review: Brazil (1985), directed by Terry Gilliam

The description for this film when pressing the info-button on our TV service was that Brazil is about a man who inadvertently becomes an enemy of the state because of a clerical error. Oh, if only things were that simple.

Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is happy where he is, working for the totalitarian 1984 style government. He’s offered several promotions but turns them all down because he’s happy where he is. Sam has frequent day dreams, and in one of these, he sees a beautiful woman (Kim Greist). When he later actually sees the same woman in real life, Jill, he gets obsessed by her.

So obsessed, in fact, that he actually decides to take the promotion – because if he changes departments to Information Retrieval, he can find out who she is and where she lives. (Stalker, much?)

As it happens, this Jill person, lives in an apartment above an innocent man, Archibald Buttle, who, because of the aforementioned clerical error, gets arrested. The person they meant to grab, Archibald Tuttle (Robert De Niro) is a heating engineer.

Other notable actors include Michael Palin as a master torturer, Jim Broadbent as a plastic surgeon, Bob Hoskins as Spoor and Ian Holm as Mr Kurtzmann.

It should come as no surprise that Brazil is the epitome of weird. It came out of the mind of Terry Gilliam (Monty Python), after all. While I appreciate the setting, the whole totalitarian thing, and find the bleak, bureaucratic future interesting, the film completely failed to grab me.

For the most part, I wanted to punch Sam in the face, especially when he takes to (sort of) hijacking Jill’s vehicle. That man really doesn’t know how to lay low, put it that way. And near the end, it’s all very Freudian, and once the credits had started rolling, I just felt like shrugging, saying “ooooooookay?” and then go do something useful to make up for the time I had lost watching this film.

So, why’s it called Brazil? Who knows? Who cares? It could have been called Navel Fluff or Biscuit or 2084. The title felt quite irrelevant. It’s not exactly a film for people who like watching films to be entertained, because they – like me – will more likely sit there scratching their heads, thinking “this is weird”, yawn, look at the clock wondering when it’ll be over, and at the end, shrug and say “well, that was pointless”.

At least Brazil can fuel discussions, I suppose. Is it superb? (No.) Is it supremely dull? (Kind of.) Is it weird? (Hell yes.) Does it make perfect sense? (Err, no.) But maybe that’s where the alleged genius of the film lies – not with what happens on screen, but what the director has managed to accomplish in the audience. Or something. Either way, it really isn’t my cup of tea.

Even if the actors are good and it was directed by a Python.

It’s too weird, I don’t believe the love story for a second, or anything else for that matter. I’d rather suffer through a Twilight marathon, to be brutally honest. At least that would be entertaining. Well, sort of.

1.5 out of 5 broken air conditioners.


An easily distracted and over-excited introvert who never learns to go to bed at a reasonable time. Enjoys traveling (when there's not a plague on), and taking photos of European architecture. Cares for cats, good coffee and Boardwalk Empire. A child of her time, she did media studies in school and still can't decide what she wants to be when she grows up.

3 thoughts on “Brazil (1985)

  1. I saw Brazil when it first came out. The BF loved it. I hated it. I should have known right then and there we weren’t right for each other.

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