TIFF Review: Florianópolis Dream
If nothing else, Florianópolis Dream does an excellent job of bringing to mind hazy memories of family vacations of yesteryear, before the internet meant that you could bring the real world along with you, and connections you made while on vacation had the electric immediacy of relationships that everyone knew would only last for a short period of time.
This film follows an Argentinian family of four as they embark on a beach vacation in Florianópolis, Brazil. The parents are separated psychoanalysts trying their best to maintain some semblance of normality and work through things; their children Julian and Flor are typical teens pushing against the boundaries of parental restrictions. The family meets Marco and Larissa, Brazilians who rent out their house to tourists, and they are offered a place to stay. So begins their idyllic beach vacation.
Things begin promisingly enough, and the family seems to be having a nice time together on the beach. But it doesn’t take long for the cracks in their relationships to begin to show. Lucrecia and Pedro, the estranged parents, become growingly isolated from each other as they explore flirtations with their neighbors.
Flor throws herself headfirst into a new relationship with a local boy, something that we are lead to believe is hardly an uncommon occurence. And Julian spends his time trying to convince his parents to let him leave early so he can go on a separate vacation with his friends from home. Not exactly what the parental units were probably hoping for when they imagined themselves on a relaxing beach getaway.
It definitely does have the atmosphere of a typical family vacation (well, except for the myriad of sexual relationships, unless your parents happened to be swingers), especially one where the children are older and everyone is pulling apart and coming together again, like ships passing by periodically in the night. The main couple clearly still care for each other, but it remains to be seen how much work they are willing to put into a reconciliation, and whether or not they’re only seeking that because they are comfortable with one another. They both find relatively fulfilling sexual relationships with their friends on the beach, but continually return to each other seemingly out of habit.
But although the vague feeling of nostalgia and beautiful, joyful imagery of the Brazilian coast make for a generally pleasant film, it doesn’t do enough to engage the audience. It’s billed as a comedy, but it isn’t really that funny, nor is it dramatic enough to serve as a straight drama. There is almost no conflict, narratively speaking, which makes everything fairly unexciting. Even the sordid fighting and cheating, usually a guaranteed way to spice things up a bit, seem dull. Everything is so mellow and almost muted that it’s difficult to muster much of an emotional response — after all, if the characters barely seem to mind the series of infidelities and indignities they put each other through, why should we?