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The Three Marias Review

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Having seen her menfolk gunned down by a spurned suitor, Filomena summons her three daughters and details each to find an assassin to account for a member of the murderer’s family

★★★★★

The Brazilian revenge drama undergoes a little gender revisionism in Aluízio Abranches’ stylish mesa Western. Having seen her menfolk gunned down by a spurned suitor, Filomena (Severo) summons her three daughters and details each to find an assassin to account for a member of the murderer’s family.

Each adventure has its distinctive tone, but Maria Franscisca’s (Lemmertz) pursuit of a snake-eating chauvinist, Maria Rosa’s (Mendonça) encounter with a hick cop, and Maria Pia’s (Mariani) liberation of a serial killer combine to form a droll and increasingly tense narrative that is laced with references to other genres from other places.

Although shot in evocative widescreen by Marcelo Durst, the visuals have an unnerving intimacy, with the close-ups recalling Sergei Eisenstein and Sergio Leone. This is never more than pure melodrama, but its surreal naturalism adds edge.