This beguiling, baffling, brilliant film is set in the very near future in the town of the title, which we learn is in southern Brazil.
The first scene involves one of the main characters Teresa (Bárbara Colen) travelling as a passenger in a water truck through the dusty countryside. As they pass by the site of a recent accident which involved a motorcycle and a lorry carrying coffins, we see the corpse of the biker and the contents of the lorry being looted by the locals. To me this is a signpost and foreshadow of where this movie is headed, especially in the second half. When the truck arrives in Bacurau, the town is in mourning for one of their matriarchs, and we are quickly immersed in a community under siege from multiple enemies, including those who have a constitutional duty of care. They are forgotten people in, quite literally, a forgotten town.
How this community deals with these threats, and how they are cranked up to 11 on the bonkers scale is explored over 130 minutes. This never feels like a drag as the intrigue and the characterisations keep you engaged and keep you guessing. There are great performances by many of the actors, not least by Sônia Braga as Domingas, the town doctor and by Thardelly Lima as the slimy, corrupt mayor Tony Jnr. Udo Kier is also in the movie, and if you know genre films then you know what to expect if he’s in the cast!
Like many great movies, the less you know about the actual story then the more you will get out of your first watch so I am being deliberately vague – what I will say is that nearly every scene is drenched in symbolism and overall the story has an allegory that is urgent and angry, with good reason. This is a movie that takes a day or so to percolate and I believe it will also reward multiple viewings – I’m sure I have missed a lot the first time around.
I am going to put this at a 9 on the Skelpometer for now – if it does reward a further viewing then it may get uprated…
Bacurau is available to rent on Prime Video