- Golden Globe Awards
In director Allan Deberton’s feature debut Pacarrete, we first meet our title character (Marcelia Cartaxo) joyously sweeping the sidewalk in front of her apartment. Rendered in lively song and dance, the ordinary activity becomes an exuberant ballet of self-expression, inviting us into the orbit of an unconventional, self-assured woman.
Pacarrete, a 70ish Francophile adorned with flaming red hair and a voice that sounds as if she gargles with razor blades, has set her sights on being the featured performer for her town’s 200th anniversary celebration. An ex-ballet dancer, she has forewarned the party organizers of her desire for star placement at the celebration. The only problem is that no one in the town of Russas, in northeastern Brazil, cares for her offer or wants her to perform.
But that doesn’t stop her preparation as she not only rehearses for the performance but hires a dressmaker to create a new outfit for her. Sharing an abode with her ailing sister Chiquinha (Zezita Matos) and their domestic help Maria (Soia Lira), Pacarrette is oblivious to any of their needs as she barks commands, sucking all the air out of the room as the diva she is. Even the local grocery owner Miguel (João Miguel), who respectfully indulges her with reverence, is treated as an adoring fan. And real wrath is incurred by anyone who passes by unannounced: she free flowingly screams obscenities in their direction. And her language is very colorful and full throttle!
Initially, Pacarrete entices the audience to be enamored with her bravado, but soon that audacity is turned on its head as this once formidable force of nature begins to crack under the pressure of reality. Is everything we witness her truth or merely a figment of her wishful imagination? The whimsical tone of the opening begins to wane, mirroring the dimming of our protagonist’s own internal light.
Deberton, who notes at the beginning of the film, that it is based on a true story, has constructed his story almost as a fable, complete with bright colors, bold musical choices, and an ending that is purely theatrical in tone.