by Daniel Baldwin
The latest drama from Brazilian filmmaker Gabriel Martins, Mars One, lays out the story of a family’s trials and tribulations, set against the backdrop of a fascist right-wing leader being elected to power in 2018. The Martins are a lower-middle-class family, struggling to make ends meet. Their wants, needs, and beliefs are all running in separate directions, which is a tense thing to be occurring amidst such political upheaval.
Matriarch Tercia (Rejane Faria) has become overwhelmed by the supernatural fear that she is cursed. Patriarch Wellington (Carlos Francisco) sees that, given their skin color, their only salvation for future financial security can come in the form of son Deivinho’s (Cicero Lucas) soccer skills. After all, raw sports talent often glosses over any issues with social and/or cultural standing. Problem there is that Deivinho isn’t too keen on becoming a professional athlete. His personal dreams lie not in the clouds, but above them: he wants to become an astronaut and help colonize Mars as part of the (then-)planned Mars One mission.
Then there’s daughter Eunice (Camilla Damião), who longs to leave and live elsewhere with her girlfriend, out from under the influences of her parents. All of this makes for a rather tense and chaotic environment for the family, especially when it comes to understanding one another’s differences, but it’s not a situation devoid of love. Because of this, there’s a very tender and emotional undercurrent flowing deeply through the film amidst all of the familial strife on display. The performances are all touching, even those that hail from non-professional actors.
Where Mars One trips up is when it tries to focus on each family member’s arc equally. By serving no master, the film comes up short on delivering the goods as well as it might have had one family member been the primary focus. After all, there’s only so much story that can fit into a two-hour runtime. Still, this is a moving and often relatable family drama. It’s not hard to see why it has garnered such acclaim on the festival circuit. If down-to-earth familial drama is your thing, you’ll want to check this one out.