Shirley (Dandara de Morais) has left the big city to live in a small seaside town and look after her elderly grandmother. She drives a tractor on a local coconut plantation, loves rock music and wants to be a tattoo artist. She feels trapped in the tiny coastal village. She is involved with Jeison (Geova Manoel dos Santos), who also works on the coconut farm and who free dives for lobster and octopus in his spare time. During the month of August, when tropical storms pound the coastline, a researcher registering the sound of the trade winds emanating from the Intertropical Convergence Zone arrives in their village. The high tides and the growing winds mark the following days of the village and a surprise discovery takes Shirley and Jeison on a journey that confronts them with the duel between life and death, loss and memory, the wind and the sea.
Brazilian director Gabriel Mascaro is mostly known for his documentary work, but over the past couple of years has transitioned into the narrative filmmaking landscape. His most recent film is 'Neon Bull', which has won several film festival awards, but before that, he made a little film called 'August Winds', which was also a hit on the film festival circuit.
Unfortunately, there just isn't much to the narrative or story here. It's more style than substance with 'August Winds', which slows down the film to a crawl in several spots. And Mascaro definitely has style as he uses his camera and technique to show the lives of two lovers in Brazil and the sometimes odd obstacles that come their way. Every shot of the ocean, lovemaking, coconuts, waves rolling in, and longing glance takes longer than normal, which again, slows down the film, but every shot look gorgeous.
I just wish the story and characters were fleshed out a bit more. It's no doubt that Brazil has a remarkable landscape and Mascaro captures all of its beauty along with its destruction by humans and mother nature throughout. The film's narrative follows a beautiful woman named Shirley who takes care of her grandmother by working on a coconut farm. There she is involved with a guy named Jeison. When I say involved, I mean a highly sexualized and intense involvement that has the couple taking on life's moments of fun and death.
The young couple have to deal their weird parents, the arrival of a meteorologist, storms, and a dead body that washes ashore. You can see that Mascaro uses these plot devices as symbolism for the love of their relationship and what it will ultimately become, but it just takes too long to get to that point. It must be noted that most of the actors here are in fact non professional actors, but rather locals, which gives the film some realistic qualities, but it only goes so far as the director allows his story to be told. Again, the camerawork is top notch, but the story is lacking here.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'August Winds' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc from Kino Lorber and is Region A Locked. There are no inserts included here. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case.
'August Winds' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image as a whole looks a little muted and for a film that is set near a beautiful beach, colors don't strike or pop off screen. Detail is mostly sharp and vivid, particularly in closeups in well lit exteriors. The imperfections of the coconuts as well as the individual hairs on the actor's faces and beads of sweat show up nicely here.
That being said, the lower lit scenes or the sections that take place during nighttime don't look as good, as the image goes a bit soft and murky with some video noise. Colors again are decent, but never bright or candy coated. Black levels are deep for the most part, but there is some evidence of some crush in the lower lit scenes. Skin tones look natural as well here.
This release comes with a lossless Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix with optional English subtitles. Throughout the film, there are a few thunderstorms that completely engulf the soundscape, which always sounds great. The loud booming thunder and the lighting strikes provide a fully immersive experience inside your viewing room with rain drops falling out of all speakers.
Other island ambient noises are crisp and loud as are the rolling waves. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow along with the English subtitles. The bass has a nice flow to it as well and is never overly loud, but packs a good punch when the storms are rolling in. There are no pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills here either.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
'August Winds' isn't for everybody. It isn't even for me, but I respect the filmmaker doing something that is out of the norm and not compromising his vision, even if it didn't stick with the masses or myself. The movie is about 75 minutes long, but it feels like two hours, which is due to the poor plot and slow character interaction. That being said, the filmmaking itself and cinematography is top notch, but it doesn't put over the film in any way, shape, or form. The video presentation is decent, but not great, but the audio is solid. The only extra is a theatrical trailer. If you're curious, give it a rent for the technical merits alone.