VIFF 2021 Review: The Book of Delights (O Livro dos Prazeres)

Written by Maria Athayde

70/100

The Book of Delights co-written and directed by Marcela Lordy is a loose adaptation of Brazilian author Clarice Lispector’s book Uma Aprendizagem ou o Livro dos Prazers. It tells the story of Lóri (Simone Spoladore) an elementary school teacher on a journey of self-discovery as she navigates her monotonous professional life and a series of sexual and romantic relationships. As the movie progresses Lóri develops a primarily pseudosexual relationship with an Argentinian philosopher called Ulisses (Javier Drolas) and it is this relationship that opens her eyes to new possibilities.  

As Lóri and Ulisses’ relationship becomes more intimate, we start to unravel all of her layers. We learn that Lóri is dealing with intense personal trauma, the death of her mother, and fractured family relationships that make her closed off and stand offish to the world and people. Ulisses can see past this façade and encourages Lóri to be more compassionate with herself and let others in. Their relationship is transfixing and sexy and sets much of the tone for the movie, It is through this relationship that Lóri starts to rediscover herself.  

Ultimately, what makes this movie work is Spoladore’s performance. She is sublime and the camera gravitates towards every frame she’s in, which is the majority of the movie. Spoladore’s performance is complemented by Lordy’s directorial touch. In particular, Lordy’s use of color really caught my attention. The scenes where Lordy uses fiery and passionate red hues coupled with cool darkness of the ocean at night time really drew me in. This movie does not do anything extraordinary but it does several things that will draw you in and make you keep watching.

The Book of Delights Trailer

The Book of Delights was screened as part of the 2021 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdTwitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.

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