Starring – Kelner Macêdo, Lucas Andrade, Welket Bungué, Ana Flavia Cavalcanti, Ronaldo Serruya, Marcia Pantera
Directed by Marcelo Caetano
Body Electric is one of those movies that I think I liked, but I’m not entirely sure. I mean it’s not like I didn’t like it. I didn’t sit on my futon during the movie and go, “God, this is awful,” because it wasn’t awful or bad or unwatchable at all. I think the problem has a little more to do with me than the movie. The movie is Brazilian and not American and so it didn’t follow the same rules that American films always do. I usually prepare myself for different with a film when I sit down to watch a European movie. I’ve seen tons and tons and tons of European movies, so I know pretty much what kind of differences to expect with a European movie versus an American movie, so I’m not all like, “Hey, movies don’t usually do this!” But I haven’t seen many South American movies. So, I’m not such an expert on them when it comes to the styles they use in their filmmaking. I went into Body Electric with just the trailer as my guide and the trailer was made more for American audiences, because I was then expecting a movie that looked more American than foreign.
Body Electric is about Elias, a gay man who works as an assistant designer in a clothing factory by day, and by night, he dares to party with his fellow, aka, lower employees. The thing with Body Electric that makes it so different than most American movies and actually a bit more like European movies is it jumps right into Elias’ life with no explanations or background or history. We pop right into his life right at the moment the film starts and we, the audience, are then a part of his life for the next 90 minutes. It is like a camera suddenly appeared in Elias’ life and it follows him around as he works, picks up a guy at the mall, has sex, goes to work again, parties with his co-workers after hours, pursues a guy that he then realizes isn’t into him or basically into men in general, carries on a casual affair with another co-worker, eats, drinks, swims, parties on public buses, worries about a sick co-worker, flirts with soccer players, goes to a drag show, etc., etc., etc. In other words, we get a glimpse into Elias’ life for as long as the camera is with him. Because then suddenly, the movie is over and we leave Elias’ life just like we entered it, not really knowing anything about Elias, yet knowing everything about Elias. It’s kind of like reality TV, except Elias’ fictional life is way more real than any life on any reality TV program.
So basically, unlike pretty much every American movie and TV show in existence since the dawn of time, or really since the dawn of film, Body Electric has no discernible plot or characters or story. It is just Elias’ life. He goes here. He goes there. He says this. He does that. It looks just like life. People are constantly talking over each other in scenes. If there was any blocking for the actors, it doesn’t look like it at all. They seemed to just go wherever they wanted, just like the camera wasn’t there at all and they were not in a movie, but just in their normal everyday life. Even the way the characters talk, it’s as if there was no actual script, just an idea of what the actors were supposed to say and then they just ad-libbed it all. Everything is so natural and so real. And that part of the movie I loved. I just found myself wishing for just a little bit more of a definable plot. I wish I got to know the characters more on an individual basis instead of always in a group and partying with Elias and only getting bits and pieces about them and their lives. But this is all Body Electric gave me. Shots here and there of Elias with his co-workers and lovers; just living, laughing, losing, hating and loving.
So basically, Body Electric is a realistic look into a gay man’s life, and how often do we get to see that in films? Not often, but at least that number is on the rise. 🙂
Body Electric is now out on DVD and VOD from Peccadillo Pictures.