A would-be actor’s showcase, this Brazilian Front Window revolves around Fernanda Montenegro’s Regina, a police informant whose work seems to consist mostly of hanging out inconspicuously in clubs populated by people a third her age. Spending her not inconsiderable spare time using binoculars to spy on neighbors, she witnesses what may or may not be a man murdering his wife, and soon finds herself drawn to the new widower. Occasionally threatening to become interesting by diagnosing Regina’s obsession with crime as a symptom of encroaching insanity (or senility), Other Side, unlike the Hitchcock masterpiece, never finds a way of extending its critique to the viewer. The ostensible subject is the possibility of finding the emotional and spiritual renewal of romance late in life, but co-writer and first-time director Marcos Bernstein (who also co-scripted the Montenegro-starring Central Station) drowns the film in anesthetizing atmospherics and hot Brazilian bodies, blunting the energy of his septuagenarian star’s performance. Saddling the cast with clunky, portentous dialogue (“Everything has a price, which we discover when we pay it”) doesn’t help any. Viewers looking for a thoughtful movie about a woman struggling with aging and desire would be better off checking out last year’s The Mother.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 15, 2005