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" They should have sent a poet "
— Jodie Foster, Contact

MRQE Top Critic

Creed II

It's all about the importance of character and the ability to face life's challenges. —Matt Anderson (review...)

Creed II

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How many times have you wondered to yourself, “Can Brazil make a good scary werewolf movie?” I can now tell you that the answer is “Yes!” and that movie is Good Manners. It’s a solid horror film and a lot more bedsides.

I then wonder what Hollywood will do to Good Manners when it gets its hands on this Brazilian werewolf/lesbian single-mom-against-the-world, class/race/struggle love story. Naturally the first thing will be to suck all of the life out of it leaving a dry-husk, a weak caricature of the original. But that is standard operating procedure when importing foreign films into the US movie-making machine. Having thus reduced it, they’ll then drop all the other themes leaving only the werewolf-lesbian part and hope to do something half as good as The Hunger... which admittedly was a vampire-lesbian movie... a minor point to the profit-driven American producers.

But I’m borrowing trouble here. Forget about what might happen tomorrow. You can right now enjoy directors Julian Rojas and Marco Dutra’s work in it’s original undiluted Brazilian form because Icarus Films has just issued Good Manners on DVD, adding to their already impressive catalogue.

Good Manners’ strongest point is its unrelenting humanity (which generously extends to werewolves too... even murderous ones that kill their mothers and eat their childhood friends). Manners is a laundry list of movie tropes and vignettes covering gender, class, race, sexual orientation, single parenting, and of course the physics of werewolfdom. At each step along the way, kindness shines through.

Maybe that is why it’s entitled “Good Manners”?  I like this title because it really is about behaving decently. The original Portuguese title As Boas Maneiras can translate into English as “The Good Ways” which might be a better title than Good Manners... but not a show stopper in any case.

Another thing I liked about this movie is that it doesn’t get too preachy about any of the moral points it makes. This makes me think that the directors are pretty level headed people themselves who have no ax to grind. They lay out a moral bump in the road and then have the characters navigate the terrain in style and grace. The possible exception being the werewolf-cad who seduces the feckless rich girl before the movie begins. That backstory is amusingly told as storyboard art which softens the ax-grinding a bit. The hairy Don Juan is later shown to be a priest, so maybe there’s some personal anger and bitterness there though even in this brief reveal, the wolf-man appears as a tortured soul in over his head and subject to the phases of the moon.

Good Manners has an unresolved Butch Cassidy-style apocalyptic ending and I can only guess at why Rojas and Dutra chose to do that. Maybe they ran out of time and money or decided not to end on a down-note or incredulous conclusion. That is a minor point. Sadly, Good Manners’ ending is made even more poignant in light of the recent election in Brazil of an inhumane President. It remains to be seen if a kind and generous movie like Good Manners can ever be made in Brazil again.