Love for Sale Karim Ainouz

Love for Sale is sort of a near miss. I liked the aimlessness of the narrative, the gentle flow of images and the guilt-free approach to sexuality but when you get right down to it there are no ideas and the whole thing leaves you wondering just what was the point. The nominal plot features young Hermilla (the excellent Hermila Guedes) returning to her tiny Brazilian hometown after failing to find a niche in the big city of São Paulo. She waits for her husband while tending to her baby son but hubby has pretty much abandoned her to fend for herself. So, after some dancing, screwing with a local man and more dancing, she decides to offer her body as the prize in a raffle. Complications of course ensue but not as many as you might think, and not nearly as many as might be plausible in a more serious kind of movie. Hermilla is so completely un-conflicted by her decision (and so apparently un-anguished over the circumstances that drove her to it) that you have to wonder what director Karim Aïnouz is playing at. I didn’t mind watching his movie but I didn’t think he had a very clear idea of who his protagonist was or the gravity of her situation. This doesn’t mean that she has to torture herself over her choices but she’s so much an angst-free angel about everything that you question her as a character before sexual politics even enter the picture. The movie is watchable, not demeaning, and low-level pleasurable: I’d rather see this than the middling output of my own country. Still, there’s not much reason to go out of your way for this. (Mongrel Media)