Fantastic Fest 2012 Review: TWO RABBITS Looks Good But Makes Little Sense
The first thing you'll notice in Afonso Poyart's light-hearted Brazilian crime actioner is the impressive bright yellow subtitles. I couldn't help but think for the first ten minutes about how remarkably legible those subtitles were. Why don't all movies have such clear subtitles? The irony is, I was so transfixed by how cool the subtitles looked, I wasn't really paying attention to what those subtitles were saying.
This little issue is emblematic of all of Two Rabbits (aka Dois Coelhos); a very slick movie with all kinds of cool things to look at. The film is filled with graphical overlays and polished visual effects. It even turns into a video game for a bit (the second at Fantastic Fest to borrow heavily from Grand Theft Auto - see my review of Bring Me The Head of the Machine Gun Woman). But for all its glitz, I'll be damned if I can tell you what the hell is going on in the story.
Let me give it my best shot...
Fernando Alves Pinto plays Edgar, our beloved antihero who starts the movie off by crashing his BMW into a dumpster, completely flattening a woman and her small child in the process. He then heads to Miami where he becomes a video game for a bit. The story really starts with Edgar back in Sao Paulo, trying to mend things with an employee of his dad's that we later learn was the husband/father of the crushed woman/child. None of this has anything to do with the plot.
The real story revolves around a ruthless gangster named Maicon who rules over Sao Paulo with an army of thugs. When a heist involving some important people goes wrong, Maicon (Marat Descartes) must turn to his lawyer Henrique (Neco Villa Lobos) and Henrique's wife Julia (Alessandra Negrini). Julia just happens to be a District Attorney and she also happens to be pregnant with Maicon's child. Maicon and Julia hatch a plan that involves bribing an assemblyman to clear Maicon's name. But it is going to take a butt load of money to do it - and when Maicon's money goes missing, everyone is in for a world of trouble.
Because of the way Poyart tells his story, trying to explain how these two storylines are related would be a futile, spoiler-filled exercise. Suffice to say, Poyart makes a decision early on to deceive the audience at every opportunity, leading to "gotcha" moments that are far more manipulative than they are clever. This narrative trickery doesn't serve to tell a better story, it only serves to make the story overly complex.
As if the manufactured twists and turns weren't enough, Poyart also writes in ludicrous physical devices that only exist to create complications. My favorite is the proximity devices that Edgar builds (he's some kind of tech genius, apparently). Attaching the proximity sensors to a bomb (he also has plenty of C4 on hand) means that when one target gets close enough to the bomb, the whole thing blows up. It would apparently be too easy for Edgar to just use an old-fashioned remote detonation trigger. Of course, that wouldn't open up all the possibilities for plot twists trying to hide the proximity device, making sure it's the right target, and taking care there are no innocents inside the blast radius.
There are plenty of other examples of this sort of manipulative filmmaking that all add up to a general feeling of "really?" when reflecting back on the story. Still, you can't help but be wowed by the slick effects and the pounding wussy rock soundtrack fits the bill. There is plenty to enjoy in Two Rabbits, as long as you can sit back, zone out, and avoid reading those beautiful, beautiful subtitles.