Directed by: Gabriel Martins
Distributed by: TBA
Written by Maria Athayde
Written and directed by Gabriel Martins, “Marte Um” or “Mars One,” in English, tells the story of a Black lower-middle class family in Brazil as they come to terms with the election of a far-right wing politician. The movie puts you right into the “action” as it introduces the audience to the four members of the Martins family. The patriarch Wellington (Carlos Francisco), a front-desk receptionist at a high-rise building in a more affluent neighborhood, places all his hopes and dreams on his youngest child Deivinho making it as a footballer (professional soccer player). Next, we are introduced to Tercia (Rejane Faria) the matriarch, a housekeeper turned Z-list celebrity. The older sister Eunice (Camilla Damião), is a law student who falls in love with another girl and decides to move out of the parent’s home. Finally, we have Deivinho (Cícero Lucas), a middle-school child who dreams about studying astrophysics, colonizing Mars, and attending a lecture by Neil deGrasse Tyson in an adjacent state.
This slice-of-life family drama navigates the complexities of family life in a country that, more often than not, is plagued by social and political uncertainty. With subtlety, the director can weave a narrative that is in part humorous and aspirational and in part straight-out social commentary. This decision works in the movie’s favor since everybody, at some point in their life, can relate to the generational divide that exists between their parents and them. The generational divide element is what will ground the movie for audiences outside of Brazil who are not familiar with the country, even though Martins tries his best to set his film in this day and age. In addition, Daniel Simitian’s warm score combined with Leonardo Feliciano’s mellow camera work enhances the experience as you follow the Martins family.
On the other hand, there are a few contrivances in the storytelling that don’t make “Mars One” a knockout. The biggest is a twist that happens fairly early on in the movie that has repercussions throughout the rest of the film. If this twist was better placed within the narrative or if the movie veered into something more absurdist, it would have been exceptional. In the vein of recent Brazilian films that garnered international attention, like “Bacurau” and “The Pink Cloud,” “Mars One” symbolizes the growth of Brazilian filmmakers’ abilities to blur genres and tell compelling narratives that do not shy away from socio-political commentary.