O som ao redor
starring Gustavo Jahn, Maeve Jinkings, W.J. Solha, Irma Brown
written and directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho
by Angelo Muredda In his 1975 survey of trends in Canadian literature, Northrop Frye famously diagnosed the national character as paranoiac, fraught with nightmares about being invaded by the outside world. That so-called garrison mentality, Frye offered, meant early white Canadian settlers bonded together against both the malevolent nature past their forts and the more generalized outside threats it represented--shutting their doors to anyone who seemed the slightest bit unneighbourly. Although Frye had a very specific community in mind, it's hard not to see it reflected in the gated neighbourhood of critic-turned-filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho's Neighbouring Sounds, a conclave of middle-class northern Brazilian condo-dwellers who define themselves by the riffraff they discard, whether car-stereo thieves or sleeping doormen. Part-Hanekian surveillance thriller and part-Altmanesque ensemble of overlapping voices, it's one of the most assured debut features to land in years, the sort of fully-formed high-concept work you expect after a couple of interesting misfires.