Black humor dons its darkest robes in BRAZIL. Blindingly obtuse, excessively morose, the film is nevertheless dazzling in its inventive and massive sets and spectacular in its techniques. The theme is latter-day Orwell, well beyond 1984. The place could be anywhere in the future, where
citizens of the regime live subterranean existences. One of these punctilious moles is Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), a mundane statistician working in the Ministry of Information. He and millions of others work and live in a world crowded with a huge snakelike ductwork that heats, cools, and
generally keeps the community going, when it works. A disaster, of sorts, is set off when a bug in the computer system causes everything to go haywire by altering the arrest record for a terrorist named Tuttle (Robert De Niro) to read Buttle. Lowry investigates the mistaken identity and discovers
the girl of his fantasies, Jill Layton (Kim Greist). But in doing so he brings the scrutiny of superiors upon himself. The art direction (which earned the film an Academy Award nomination, as did the screenplay) and the special effects are nothing less than stunning. The storyline is a bit
confusing--fragmented through interjected scenes and dizzying cross-cutting--so that some viewers may not grasp the sense of it all until it's almost over, and perhaps that's the point. Perhaps not. The plot's weaknesses become painfully apparent about halfway through the film. Still, BRAZIL is a
powerful work that is both bleakly funny and breathtakingly assured. Following TIME BANDITS with this film, Gilliam firmly established himself as a director possessing true vision and remarkable style; few fantasy-film directors can compare with him. Haunting, lyrical and trendsetting, BRAZIL--a
black comedy that remains ahead of its time--is one of the most audacious fantasies ever made.
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