Director Bruno Barreto crafts sensuous and mature movies about complicated trysts and threesomes (DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS; CARRIED AWAY ). REACHING FOR THE MOON, the winner of Best Feature/Audience Awards at both San Francisco International LGBT and Toronto Inside Out Film Festivals, is one of his most accomplished pieces.
It tells the true story of a three-way relationship begun In 1951, when American poet Elizabeth Browning traveled to the verdant Brazilian estate of Mary Morse and the architect Lota de Macedo Soares. Ms. Browning was in a creatively fallow period, struggling to find inspiration. This film depicts the tempestuous affair that sparked between Lota and Elizabeth, inspiring them to some of their greatest achievements. The love of these two women, as distinct from one another as the id and the super-ego, traversed a tumultuous period (1951 to 1967) filled with personal coups and political coups d’etat. While they were together, Ms. Browning won the Nobel Prize and Ms. Soares designed Rio de Janeiro’s Parque do Flamengo. But struggles with jealousy, depression and addiction eroded their relationship.
Glória Pires commands the screen with her portrayal of Lota, a woman who demanded the right to possess everything and everyone she wanted. Miranda Otto’s performance retains a pointed awareness that deepens the impact of her profound transformation. Bruno Barreto masterfully captures the period and Brazil’s exquisite landscapes. The sensuous vistas of Samambaia radiate from the screen, enhanced by passages of Elizabeth Browning’s evocative poetry and a warm soundtrack featuring classical music, samba and jazz. This is one of the year’s delights, both bitter and sweet.