A room that was once filled with overlapping chatter falls into silence except for the voice of Madá, soft but strong as it fills the room and commands attention. All eyes are on her as her story unfolds, punctuated with her insistent claim of “I hate Christmas” as she pauses to gather herself. The camera pushes in on her, and her hands shift from her lap to the air in front, her intense shaking gestures illustrating her point before clenching them back on her lap. She finishes with this:
“I can’t stand Christmas. Never liked it.”
It’s a scene that glues us to Madá, as does the film as a whole, a character who, like her voice, epitomizes being soft and strong at once. You too might agree with this reviewer, that Three Summers’ vivid detailing of this character as her story unfolds makes it a film well worth seeing.
OVID.tv’s THREE SUMMERS Forms a Christmas Backdrop Amidst Corruption
The first Christmas in December 2015 opens on a hopeful note as Madá observes the land she wants to buy in order to open her own kiosk. A grin continuously lights up her face as she discusses how she will turn this place into a thriving business with the loan promised from her employer. But, when Madá tells the wife of her employer, Marta (Gisele Fróes), that she needs the money that day, Marta says it cannot be done, because it’s a holiday. She then asks Madá, “Doesn’t your church celebrate Christmas?” Madá glances away from Marta and does not respond.
By the next Christmas, it becomes clear that Madá’s employer, Edgar (Otavio Müller) is being investigated for various corrupt activities. As Madá realizes Edgar won’t be returning, she is also informed that her kiosk (for which she did end up receiving the loan) has been closed, as it is part of the investigation. When Madá arrives upon her business to see for herself, her pace abruptly slows, the lens catching her expression as it freezes and then falls, looking at something beyond the frame. The camera pans over as she continues walking, slow and unsure, and we see a large metal fence surrounding her kiosk on all sides, cutting off access to it. We watch from afar as Madá briefly attempts to find a crack in the fence, to no avail. From this distanced shot, Madá appears very small before the looming wall that has cut her off from her dreams. Sometime later, ever-resilient Madá is back in the house, taking the Christmas-themed merchandise she made for her business and placing them back in its box.
THREE SUMMERS Illustrates Class Disparity and Resilience
In this way, Three Summers follows Madá (Regina Casé), a middle-aged housekeeper for a wealthy family in Rio de Janeiro. Based in part on a real criminal investigation known as Operation Car Wash, we travel with Madá through three consecutive Christmases (which take place in Brazil’s summers) as the illegal dealings of the family unfold. Each of these Christmases brings with it various forms of destabilizing news which Madá must navigate as she continues to find ways to keep herself and her coworkers afloat. She not only survives but telegraphs how a resilient spirit recoups and recoups again, and again--she is resilience personified.
For anyone interested in historical fiction stories that detail some of the less discussed consequences of Operation Car Wash, Three Summers is a worthwhile watch. This film might also be enjoyed by anyone looking for an unconventional Christmas movie that showcases resilience in hard times.
Three Summers is in Portuguese with English subtitles, so anyone who does not enjoy reading subtitles might want to skip this one.
Director: Sandra Kogut
Writers: Sandra Kogut and Iana Cossoy Paro
Regina Casé: Madá
Rogério Fróes: Mr. Lira (Edgar’s father)
Otavio Müller: Edgar
Gisele Fróes: Marta
To watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for THREE SUMMERS
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author: Grace Downing
Grace has been an aspiring writer since she got in trouble in second grade for scribbling down ideas for her burgeoning fiction story instead of paying attention to the teacher. Since then, Grace has written a mix of fiction and poetry, penned a number of opinion articles for her high school newspaper, and has published one of her poems in a local newspaper in Venice, California. Reading lengthy fantasy series is a favorite pastime of hers as well. Grace is a part-time tutor, and when she is not reading or writing, she can likely be caught rewatching one of the Marvel movies or their many television shows.