Reaching for the Moon

reaching for the moon posterBrazilian director Bruno Barreto’s (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands) biopic Reaching for the Moon based on the romantic relationship between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares quenches the cinematic search for gorgeous, honest, celebratory lesbian films – a rarity in straight, male dominated cinema.I realize this is another lesbian film directed by a man. From my vantage point, Barreto creates a realistic, beautiful film about two real life iconic women. In other words, it works, it’s not exploitative and it’s not softcore porn for straight men.

First thing you’ll notice about Reaching for the Moon is the cinematography and editing. Mauro Pinheiro Jr. and editor Leticia Giffoni craft a visually sumptuous film which begs to be honored simply for its beauty. But that’s just the beginning. The location scout should be acknowledged as well. The estate in Brazil where most of the story takes place is like something out of another time or another planet. It’s gorgeous beyond belief – truly breathtaking. These three components set the bar for what becomes a beautiful and honest story of the long-term love affair between the American poet and her Brazilian architect. Miranda Otto (Doing Time for Pasty Cline) and Brazilian TV star Gloria Pires work their magic in the lead roles. Elizabeth Bishop comes to Brazil to flee her demons back home in NYC. She looks up an old college friend who is in a lesbian relationship with a Brazilian woman. Remember this is the 1950s. Together the three of them form not exactly a triad but the two Americans share Lota creating an awkward family during what must have been a very difficult time for women to be independent much less openly share a home together as a couple, much less three women together even in the most discreet sense. The reason Reaching for the Moon spoke to me was the maturity of the story. The women weren’t starry-eyed teenagers nor were they doomed lovers. The love between the three women wasn’t neat or tidy but honest and intense reminding me of my own experiences.  Barreto captures an honesty that is rare for any film. He digs beneath the perfect surface exposing the reality of these women’s lives without sacrificing lust, passion, long-term love, affection, and commitment they have for each other. Can you tell I loved this movie? Bravo to Wolfe Video for snagging the rights to this important lesbian story.

How do you feel about this film being directed by a straight man? Would I prefer lesbians continue to create their own films? Absolutely. Am I interested in my lesbian friends’ opinions about the film and the choice of filmmaker? You bet. Am I sorry Barreto made this film. No way.  It’s a masterpiece. 5 out of 5.

Wonder what Wolfe’s decision was behind not releasing a Blu-ray version? Reaching for the Moon begs to be viewed in the most hi-def, biggest screen possible. It’s epic.

7/8/14: Holds up beautifully the second time around, especially when I get to watch it with Uncle Barb and her favorite girl. Location shots, acting, story, directing, everything stunning.  More lesbian films like this please!

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