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Showing 1-10 of 83 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 95 reviews
on December 22, 2013
I was sad to see this deeply moving, complex and intelligent story of the love between the award winning American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. so overlooked by U.S. audiences and critics. There are two outstanding performances by Miranda Otto as the outwardly shy and repressed alcoholic Bishop, and Gloria Pires as her opposite, an extroverted, highly emotional woman who coaxes Bishop out of her shell.

Very nicely photographed, this reminded me of the best of the Merchant-Ivory films. It's not flashy. Indeed there's a quiet to it
that is needed to off-set the melodramatic (even if based in truths) elements of these women's lives. But that doesn't keep it from packing a hell of an emotional punch, and in being bold enough to create characters we care for, but who are also deeply troubled and capable of making bad choices – just like in the real world of relationships we rarely see on screen.

It was also nice to see a gay love story that both acknowledged how difficult being homosexual was in the 1950s, while not becoming a film about that only. This is a film about a complex relationship between two highly creative and wounded souls who
both save and damage each other. The fact that both are women is only a small part of the larger story. It's also one of the only films I've seen capture at least a taste of the struggle and loneliness of the act of writing.

One of those quiet little gems that deserves to be discovered by more people.
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on March 23, 2014
After you have watched as many gay films as I have you get use to the same old thing. Bad plots with good acting, good plots with bad acting, bad plots with bad acting. Pick one and you will have it in most lesbian films. This one really was a great surprise. I took the previous reviews with a grain of salt but I have to agree with the majority.

Excellent movie based on real people. Enjoyed the Brazil scenery and going through the journey with the two women. A good love story that happens to involve two women. Excellent acting. Love scenes were not over done.

Rent it or buy it. Either way you will not go wrong.
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on June 7, 2015
I had hoped for more from this movie, considering its pedigree: director Bruno Barreto (View from the Top, Four Days in September, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands); the excellent cast, including Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings); and the compelling true story that it's based on. I read the book "Rare and Commonplace Flowers" in 2005, and my late Brazilian husband, architect Sylvio de Vasconcellos, knew all the main characters personally, so maybe I was expecting more content than could possibly be squeezed into a 2-hour film.
For those who aren't familiar with the story, American poet Elizabeth Bishop arrives in Rio de Janeiro on a freighter in 1951. She has a ticket to travel around the world and is taking advantage of the stopover in Rio to see her friend from Vassar, Mary Morse. Bishop is 40 years old and already well known for her poetry, having recently completed a stint at the Library of Congress in the position that was later to be called "Poet Laureate."
A self-declared lesbian with a string of lovers in her past, she soon discovers that Mary is living with Lota de Soares Macedo at a beautiful inland retreat not far from Rio. The scenery is breathtaking - and how could it not be? The views of the Brazilian landscape are worth the price of admission.
Hours after her arrival, Bishop bites into a caju fruit (the fruit that bears the cashew nut at its tip) and has a violent allergic reaction that nearly takes her life. She misses her boat and ends up remaining in Brazil for 15 years in a ménage à trois with Lota and Mary. It's worth noting that Bishop gets by on a fairly decent inheritance from her family and Lota is in similar circumstances, only much wealthier. This is a story about rich people who have a lot of time on their hands.
Otto's interpretation of Bishop is delicately nuanced; she does a masterful job of capturing the poet's moods and quirks. Glória Pires is powerful as Lota. From the old photos online, it would appear that they each bear a strong resemblance to the real person they are portraying. Yet somehow I didn't feel the chemistry between them, or with Mary. While the compulsive attraction between and among them is key to the story, it just didn't work for me. Also, I didn't feel the characters age, or the tensions deepen, over or the evolution of the 15-year relationship. Lota ultimately has a nervous breakdown, which is blamed on Bishop. We see her go straight from commander-in-chief of an enormous landfill project (creation of Rio's famous Flamengo Park) to a pathetic shadow in a mental hospital. If Bishop was the cause of Lota's breakdown, as a movie-goer, I want to understand why.
On another level, I was expecting credit where credit was due in the creation of Flamengo Park. Lota is billed as its creator and "architect," but the park was famously designed by architect Affonso Eduardo Reidy and landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.* Lota had no formal training in architecture. Furthermore, the house where she lived, which in the movie she claims she designed herself, was in fact designed by architect Sérgio Bernardes. He won a prize for it in 1953 at the II São Paulo Bienal.**
Still, if you want a movie that takes place in a beautiful setting and celebrates the accomplishments of two very strong, very independent women who broke the cultural mold of their time, you will be rewarded.
______
* For the story of my acquaintance with Burle Marx, see http://www.findingmyinvinciblesummer.info/2013/01/06/roberto-burle-marx/
** For the true story of Flamengo Park and Lota's house, see https://coisasdaarquitetura.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/a-arquitetura-do-rio-de-janeiro-vai-ao-cinema/)
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on March 18, 2014
It is cause for celebration that finally someone is acknowledging the very existence of the most important woman poet of the Twentieth Century.
The film was interesting, poetic and even if it was "based on a true story," thought provoking.
I recommend the film and of course Bishop's work. I believe knowing her work and familiarity of several biographies enhances the film's characters, plot and appeal.
Don't miss it.
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on March 11, 2014
I was really surprised at the level of acting and overall quality of this film. Let me explain- lesbian films or lesbian themed films that aren't directed by directors with lots of cred (see The Kids Are Alright), usually leave a LOT to be desired. Poor acting, poor dialogue, silly plots, cheap production, and unfortunate endings are only some of the problems facing lesbian cinema. I had no idea that this was based on a true story, and that made it more depressing- but that's okay because it was beautifully shot, acted, casted, produced, written, etc., that I wasn't mad. This was not a cheesy lesbian film. This is quality cinema that just happened to be about a lesbian relationship(s). Thank you, Reaching for the Moon!! Very nice. I wish there were more films like this and less like It's in the Water, Some Prefer Cake, Chutney Popcorn, Go Fish, A Perfect Ending, etc. If The Kids Are Alright hadn't showcased such big names as Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Josh Hutcherson and Mia Waskjkjilhlssalla, and I could get over the hotness that was Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in a lesbian relationship, then I would say that Reaching for the Moon actually did it better. (The fatal flaw in The Kids Are Alright was that someone thought it would be better or more realistic if one of the women had an affair with a man. Come ON!!!) Rent this film, buy it, whatever. Just watch it, because it was a major achievement in lesbian cinema. Just like Blue Is the Warmest Color- another stellar lesbian cinematic achievement.
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on September 5, 2016
Before viewing the film I watched the DVD interviews with the main characters. One of the questions asked was "How did you prepare for your role?" The lead actress - Gloria Pires - said she did a role-reversal with a male actor. He played the woman and she played the man. I was perplexed by that response. After watching 3/4 of this movie I turned it off. The scenery was visually stunning. That was the best part. As for the two female leads, their chemistry was close to zero. But no wonder ... one of them was playing a man. This movie is not a lesbian love story A woman playing a man is not a lesbian; it is a woman playing a man. I was very disappointed with this film. I think it would have been a far better movie had the lead spent some time in conversation with a lesbian in love. That might have better prepared her for her role as a woman in love with another woman.
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on April 19, 2017
Became rather tiresome...and lacked likeable character...missed the charm of her writing for the misery of her relationships. I'm sure Bishop would not have liked or wanted this done. Sorry
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on July 18, 2015
This isn't for folks wanting a happy ending. It's based on the true life relationship between famous American poet, Elizabeth Bishop, and the bigger than life architect/designer/civic planner Lota de Macedo Soares, and their story did not have a fairytale ending. But the movie is beautifully filmed, and American audiences will go crazy for the gorgeous and talented and very famous Brazilian actress, Glória Pires, who is brilliant as Lota. This is her first movie in English, and her command of the language is astounding. Ultimately, this is a story of a long love affair between two extremely talented yet very different women who lived a very real life together which unfortunately did not the happy ending I'm sure they both wanted. Great movie although it does veer from the book at times for dramatic purposes.
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on March 17, 2014
I had never heard of either one of these woman before watching this movie. I've watched it a few times, however I stop before the end, which makes me sad. It is a well acted and well made film.
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on May 6, 2015
Well done! Excellent acting. The development and progression of main character's relationship was superb. Interesting and thought-provoking story about life and all ups and downs that come with it. Warning: The movie cover is misleading. If you are looking for a light-hearted, happy-go-lucky lesbian flick, this is not it! I would have given this movie a "Loved It", but for the true to life ending that continues to bother me -- that's my issue though and is not a reflection on the movie.
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