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PRIVATE DESERT (2021, BRA) Movie review, plot, trailer, rating

The Brazilian Oscar nominee proved to be a real surprise in the true sense of the word. Both in terms of quality, but also in terms of developments, since, according to the good old custom, I approached watching “Deserto Particular” or “Private Desert” by the extremely productive Brazilian filmmaker Aly Muritiba without any prior information about the plot. It is a film that hides many surprises and reminded me a bit of a cult British film from the early nineties whose name I will not reveal so as not to start the plot, and with the main protagonist we will travel here from south to north Brazil. A journey of almost two thousand kilometers on which the policeman Daniel (Antonio Saboia or Forasteiero from Bacarau and Dimas from the Mechanism series) set out to find the girl he met through social networks.

Already in the introductory scenes of this guy in his late thirties or early forties with a cast on his right arm, we see him corresponding with a girl via WhatsApp. She sends him naked pictures, so he sends her and Daniel seems completely mad with the mysterious Sarah, whom he has never seen live. She seems to be the only light in his life because Daniel is in a pretty bad situation. He has been suspended and is on trial for severely injuring a police recruit during an exercise and has become headlines. He also takes care of his old and demented father, a former officer in the Brazilian army, with the occasional help of his half-sister student, who will shock him by revealing that he is in a relationship with a girl.

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Daniel acts like a typical macho guy who works part-time as a bouncer in a disco, and his prospects are nil. Luckily there is Sara, but when she stops calling him one day, Daniel will be completely executed. He will get in a car and head from the metropolis of Curitiba (one would not believe it, but this not so famous Brazilian city has two million inhabitants) to the provincial interior of the province of Sobradinho where Sara allegedly lives. He was determined to find her naively, believing that a girl who had never seen him would welcome him with open arms and that, just as in his fantasies, a relationship and love would begin as in the movies. But “Private Desert” is not one of those films, and it will turn out that sometimes some fantasies and longings are better left unfulfilled in the realm of fantasy as well.

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Nevertheless, during the search, Daniel will experience a complete transformation and it is as if there will be a process of self-realization, reconciliation with one’s own destiny and acceptance of life as it is. When the story is told from a city that seems to have stifled the main character, it moves to the province, the emotion, atmosphere and style of this very high-quality film will completely change. Muritiba structured the story very interestingly and wisely because in the second half of the film we will follow the whole situation more from Sara’s perspective. “Private Desert” premiered in the author’s week of the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award, and it is indeed an extremely interesting, shocking, but also emotional combination of sentimental drama and road film set in an exceptional environment with quality and life characters. Rating 8/10.

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