The Three Marias

Revenge is a dish served hot and spicy in this bloody tale of three Brazilian sisters sworn to avenge the deaths of their father and brothers. When Borges Capadocio and his two sons are found savagely murdered, Filomena (Marieta Severo), Borges's widow and the family matriarch, gathers her daughters. Filomena suspects the killings are the handiwork of Firmino...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Revenge is a dish served hot and spicy in this bloody tale of three Brazilian sisters sworn to avenge the deaths of their father and brothers. When Borges Capadocio and his two sons are found savagely murdered, Filomena (Marieta Severo), Borges's widow and the family matriarch, gathers her daughters. Filomena suspects the killings are the handiwork of Firmino Santos Guerra (Carlos Vereza), the scion of a rival family who's been carrying a venomous grudge against the Capadocios ever since Filomena dumped him for Borges nearly 30 years earlier. Filmomena demands retribution, but forbids her daughters to take vengeance into their own hands. "We have destiny in life," she tells them. "Yours is not to kill." Instead, Filomena sends them in search of Brazil's deadliest hit men, commanding Maria Francisca (Julia Lemmertz), the eldest, to seek out the fearsome Ze das Cobras (Enrique Diaz), who's known to feast on snakes. Maria Rosa (Maria Luisa Mendonca), the "flower of the house," is sent to recruit police chief Tenorio (Tuca Andeada), and Maria Pia (Luiza Mariani), the youngest, is ordered to locate the worst of them all: Jesuino Cruz (Wagner Moura), aka "The Devil's Horse." Once Firmino and his sons (Fabio Limma, Cassiano Carneiro) are dead, the three Marias will return home with their severed heads, incontrovertible proof that justice has been served. Finding the killers proves surprisingly easy, but bagging their prey is a bit more problematic. Ze das Cobras has such a low opinion of women that he refuses to speak directly to Maria Francisca, and shortly before Maria Rosa reaches the town where Tenorio keeps the peace, he's bitten by a rabid dog and falls deathly ill. Maria Pia, meanwhile, discovers that if she wants to hire Jesuino Cruz, she'll have to break him out of prison first. The story is reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah's delirious BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA, in which a private family affair triggers an endless chain of increasingly unrelated carnage, but with one crucial difference. Here, the violence ultimately boomerangs, returning home to infect the family that's determined to keep its own hands clean. The film has all the pregnant pauses, exaggerated reaction shots and melodramatic scoring of an overripe telenovela, but, unlike a good soap opera, the sisters' separate story lines are clumsily balanced. Worst of all, the decision to jump forward and then show the resolutions in flashback robs the narrative of steadily building momentum. (In Portuguese, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Revenge is a dish served hot and spicy in this bloody tale of three Brazilian sisters sworn to avenge the deaths of their father and brothers. When Borges Capadocio and his two sons are found savagely murdered, Filomena (Marieta Severo), Borges's widow and… (more)

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