Hotel Atlantico -- Film Review

Jason Kempin/Getty Images
More Toronto reviews

TORONTO -- Brazilian filmmaker Suzana Amaral's third feature in 23 years, "Hotel Atlantico" follows the seemingly random trek taken by an out-of-work actor through Southern Brazil.

But the path to his final destination proves to be much more deliberately mapped out than would first appear in this compelling puzzle of a road movie.

At first glance, Julio Andrade's nameless, aimless traveler would appear to be your standard issue, scraggly drifter, but bit by bit, Amaral, working from a novel by Joao Gilberto Noll, drops a couple of telling clues along the way.

Although his character's name is never revealed, it turns out he's a recognizable actor who has embarked on some sort of journey of self-discovery, going wherever life happens to lead him.

As fate would have it, many of those roads take some decidedly morbid turns, but Andrade's bearded nomad passively soldiers on, taking it all in.

While going the existential route isn't anything new -- there are palpable echoes of Antonioni and David Lynch resonating in "Hotel Atlantico" -- there's also an irresistible playfulness that's all 70-something Amaral's.

With (terrifically played) impish clerics and lusty washerwomen among the colorful characters encountered by Jose Roberto Eliezer's vivid, embracing cinematography, brushes with mortality have never felt quite so lively.

Production companies: Planifilmes/Suzana Amaral Prods.
Cast: Julio Andrade, Mariana Ximenes, Joao Miguel, Gero Camilo
Director-screenwriter: Suzana Amaral
Producer: Ary Pini
Director of photography: Jose Roberto Eliezer
Production designer: Renata Pinheiro
Music: Luiz Henrique Xavier
Editor: Ide Lacreta
No rating, 102 minutes