With Quilombo Country, first-time filmmaker Leonard Abrams opens a window onto the distinctive Afro-Brazilian culture that developed 400 years ago, when African slaves were first brought to Brazil. Those slaves who rebelled or otherwise managed to escape fled into the rainforests and established their own communities or quilombos, where their descendants still live and practice a culture that combines African, Brazilian, and Indian traditions. Unfortunately, Abrams's uninspired approach to the material—interviewees speaking directly into the camera, a show-and-tell structure, and a monotone-voiced narration by Chuck D of Public Enemy—recalls those dull and slightly condescending ethnographic films shown in junior-high social-studies classes in the 1950s and '60s. While Quilombo Country isn't exactly patronizing, the viewer remains at a distance from the people on-screen, who are shown building houses, cooking meals, dancing, and practicing their religious and spiritual rituals. Hopping from one settlement to another, the film too often feels more like a lesson than an experience.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Alex Gibney: Steve Jobs Had the 'Focus of a Monk — Without the Empathy'
- Netflix’s 'Narcos' Tries to Be 'The Wire' for Colombia’s Drug War
- ‘The Second Mother’ Offers a Sharp Brazilian Take on the Upstairs/Downstairs Drama
- The Predictability of Teary Kids Doc 'My Voice, My Life' Doesn't Make It Any Less Powerful