In her first feature film, Alice Furtado presents a daring attempt to make a lyrical horror film in Without Your Blood, which released on Netflix on November 20. Going through the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes 2019, the plot mixes feelings of first love, mourning and the supernatural, however, this set takes place in a distant, tedious approach and far from arousing empathy, surprise or astonishment.
The unfortunate result is due to the inexpressiveness of Silvia (Luiza Kosovski) and the different sequences centered on her empty face or on her triangle tattoo on the back. Like a fetish, the images get us nowhere for long minutes. With the opening sentence “The heart wants what it wants”, told by the protagonist, the film evokes a shock that never occurs, because the message of struggle for love does not find echo in the scenario.
Quickly, the young protagonist recounts her enthusiasm for her new classmate Arthur (Juan Paiva) and her vague understanding of her life, in particular her illness: hemophilia. The announced tragedy becomes intolerable for Silvia, the feeling of mourning resonates in her body and she even vomits blood. Obsessed with the loss of her boyfriend, the girl spends her days looking at the boy’s photos and masturbating.
Worried about their daughter’s lack of appetite and social apathy, the parents (played by Silvia Buarque and Lourenço Mutarelli) decide to go to a house on the beach. In this remote environment, Silvia decides to spend her nights in a tent outside the house, something strange for someone who is in poor health.
To an extent, Without Your Blood creates an atmosphere of mystery, however, the film does not develop. With a four-handed script by Alice Furtado and Leonardo Levis (O Filho Eterno), the story swirls between dreams of Silva and visions with her late boyfriend. In addition, his musings are mingled with images of a woman walking naked on the beach and artefacts of African origin. In other words, Silvia is listless, like everyone around her, and the viewer does not know why to accompany her on her uninteresting journey of mourning.
Even with the inclusion of supporting characters to socialize with the teenager, the film lacks any interesting dialogue. Meeting Arthur’s brother seems artificial, both due to the confused conversation and the actor’s poor performance. The conversations only serve to explain the intrigue of William Seabrook’s book The Magical Island at The Beach House. From the reading, Silvia has a first contact with religious rituals, sacrifices and necromancy. The subject, in a way, catches the attention of the young girl and, by chance, someone comments on a boy who understands these things in the forest.
With 100 minutes of footage, Sem Seu Sangue would be more successful as a short film, because it lacks a whole plot structure to transport the viewer to the theme: love and the afterlife. As proposed, the story is finished in 20 minutes. The romantic obsession of the girl lives in the implicit, just like her beliefs and desires, because the transmission of these sensations is completely opaque.
It’s worth drawing a parallel with young Brazilian suspense / horror works that manage to cover all points of the narrative curve and maintain an engaging pace. For example, the recent A Sombra do Pai (2018), by Gabriela Amaral Almeida. With symbols and prayers, the São Paulo director constructs an oppressive environment of abandonment and escape for the mystic. Much like Mate-me-por Favor (2016), by Anita Rocha da Silveira from Rio de Janeiro, hypnotizes the protagonist Bia (Valentina Herszage).
On the other hand, the protagonist Luiza Kosovski is far from seducing the camera. His monotonous face is chaotic in the transmission of any narrative intention. The final scene, for example, loses all its meaning by showing the bland face of the young girl in the face of the present situation.
Although she was mistaken in the narrative composition, Alice Furtado, daughter of filmmaker Jorge Furtado (Ilha das Flores), has a keen eye on the composition of the scenes. The sexual sequence in the middle of the forest between Silvia and Arthur stands out. However, she works with a casting and limiting ideas. Without Your Blood, it could be a story about surviving a love trauma, however, the slow presentation of the horror argument is one of the writers’ big mistakes and blows up the proposal for the work.
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