Brazil a country of those who have everything they desire yet live in fear behind high iron gates, and those that do not, working long hours for a pittance and living in debt they can never pay off, expected to be grateful for the scraps they have and a roof over their heads even though it can be taken away at any moment, families thrown out the street with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Traumatised after being held at gunpoint on the street, Tereza’s husband Roberto has made accommodations for her, the dog kept outside the house, the servants quietly deferential, their new car armoured to give her a feeling of additional security as they drive to the country estate of Fazonda Cavalcanti where the foreman Renildo is in the process of delivering bad news to the workers.
The farm no longer profitable, a decision has been made to convert the ranch home amidst the luscious greenery into a hotel with alterations to commence within months; injured by pesticides in a previous incident, Zildo takes the news badly, stabbing the foreman, prompting the others to take precipitant action before the authorities are informed, ransacking the house for valuables and attempting to open the safe to retrieve cash and documentation.
A home invasion in reverse, the workers more familiar with the house, outbuildings and estate which they have laboured to maintain and where they a rightful claim to reside than the owners, writer and director Daniel Bandeira’s makes his thriller about far more than mere Property (Propriedade), giving voice to the generational rage of inherited poverty and exploitation expressed through the violence against the overlords whose crimes range from indifference to cruelty, negligence and exploitation.
Trapped in her car which she cannot drive without the security access code and desperately trying to get cell signal, Tereza (Malu Galli) may not have created the situation in which she is trapped but she has been complicit in it, benefitting from it with her life of sheltered privilege, her husband certainly aware of the tactics Renildo (Sandro Guerra) used to enforce discipline for which they have both paid in the blood which saturates the dusty earth outside the property.
A scant chance at rapprochement between the two sides mediated by matriarch Antonia who has already lost a husband and son to the land but is wise enough to be ruled by the bitterly earned experience rather than emotion, it is a losing battle when any common ground has already been scorched by years of resentment, the knowledge of the land and animals of those who are close to them more powerful than the purported safety of modernity.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival continues until Wednesday 23rd August