It’s not uncommon to bike in a major metropolis, but even for seasoned, experienced riders, it’s not always the safest choice of transportation. This is made especially riskier if you are an expectant mother like Joana, the protagonist at the center of Brazilian director Bruno Carboni’s The Accident (★★★☆☆).
Moments after the film opens in Porto Alegre, the capital city of Brazil’s Rio Grande, it is clear that an ominous event will unfold. Carboni’s muted colors, along with composer Maria Beraldo’s eerie clarinet-heavy score, assures us that this won’t be light fare.
Elaine (Gabriela Greco), in a hurry to get home with her introverted and kind son Maicon (Luis Felipe Xavier), abruptly and intentionally cuts off Joana as she pedals along the rain drizzled highway. (Safety note: it’s an even less intelligent choice to bike in a congested area with headphones, Joana.)
With fierce defiance, Joana confronts an obviously unhinged Elaine at the next intersection to confront her aggressor. She stands directly in front of her vehicle, confident that Elaine won’t accelerate.
Seconds later, Joana finds herself on the hood of Elaine’s car, holding on for dear life in a scenario that could have ended in tragedy. Meanwhile, Maicon has captured the entire event on his phone and will soon upload it online.
We’re never sure why Joana lies to her partner, Cecília (Carina Sehn) about the gender of the driver, but neither Cecilia nor the doctor think it wise for Joana to continue biking.
Although most others would pursue legal action, Joana instead forges a connection with Elaine, who is currently going through a divorce with her husband Cléber (Marcello Crawshaw). Is it an act of compassion and understanding that Joana integrates herself into the broken family? It’s unclear.
None of the characters in Carboni’s film, which he co-wrote with Marcela Ilhar Bordin, seem happy. All of them carry world-weary discontent on their faces, including Maicon, whose mother suspects that he might be gay.
The Accident is strictly character driven and the audience must work to determine and decipher everyone’s motivation. Still, the tale plays out like a noir film with mystery and quiet intensity.
It further highlights how one incident befalling one individual can change the course of several lives. One simply wishes for a bit more clarity, explanation, and a slightly faster pace.
The Accident plays Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at The Eaton.
Live screenings of Reel Affirmations films are Oct. 20 to 22 at the Eaton Hotel, 1201 K St. NW, in Washington, D.C.
Reel Affirmations 2023 includes the Virtual Film Festival providing online access to 43 films for those film lovers who cannot attend the festival in person, with a viewing window from Oct. 23 to 29. Of the 43 films, 26 are available only online.
For a full schedule of films, including retrospective showings, all pricing and pass options, and party information, visit www.thedccenter.org/reelaffirmations.
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