Aquaman Saved From Drowning

Karim Aïnouz, NYC, 4/4/03

Karim Aïnouz, NYC, 4/4/03

Director Karim Aïnouz’s new film, “Futuro Beach,” is an elliptically told and impressionistically photographed mediation on love, loss and choosing one’s life.

Donato (Wagner Moura), a young Brazilian who loves the sea (and is so at home and skilled in the water that his adoring much younger brother, Ayrton, calls him Aquaman), works as a lifeguard at Praia do Futuro. His life seems to fit him–his closeness to his family, comraderie with fellow lifeguards (a scene of them exercising, in its beauty, is reminiscent of Claire Denis’ young soldiers in “Beau Travail”), the salty air and mostly uneventful, sunny days.

When two vacationing German motorbike racers, ex-army buddies from Afghanistan, get overwhelmed by the turbulent water, Donato’s rescue attempt falls short. While Konrad (Clemens Schick) is brought to the surface, Heiko is consumed by the sea. But the stranger’s accident/tragedy is the catalyst that transforms Donato’s life and propels him into a previously unimagined  future.

Feeling shame and guilt over Heiko’s death, Donato starts a love affair with Konrad and when the extensive search along jagged shore and in endless water for Heiko’s body unsuccessfully concludes, Donato abandons what he knows and goes with him to Berlin.

Donato, even after the joy of his relationship with Konrad dissipates, remains in cold, grey Berlin, estranged from his family, working at swimming pools, and as a diver cleaning a hotel’s multi-story, cylindrical fish tank. Eight years pass and the unexpected arrival of Ayrton (Jesuita Barbosa), now grown, is another kind of catalyst, driving another future.

“Futuro Beach” will open on Friday, February 27 at the IFC Center. Karim Aïnouz (who also directed the riveting, ravishingly shot “Madame Satã”) will be in in person for Q&As at the 7:25 pm shows on opening night, moderated by Ira Sachs, and on Saturday, February 28, moderated by Tom Kalin and Rose Troche.


When I shot Karim Aïnouz in Susan Norget‘s garden, it was the chilly beginning of spring (and I’m amazed that it’s nearly 12 years ago). I liked having the the small lanterns above Karim and thought that they evoked the club lights in “Madame Satã.” Now they also make me think of water bubbles.

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