Forest family up sticks for urban jungle in The Fever

With a thoughtful look at the clash of old and new, Maya Da-Rin has created something altogether beautiful

Thursday, 29th July 2021 — By Dan Carrier

The Fever cut out

Regis Myrupu as Justino in The Fever

Directed by Maya Da-Rin
Certificate: PG

THIS haunting, thoughtful Brazilian film tells the story of a family taken out of a world that has served them well for generations and how they adjust to life in an urban sprawl.

Justino (Regis Myrupu) has a job as a dock security guard, his daughter Vanessa (Rosa Peixoto) is working at a health clinic. We learn he has recently been widowed, and Vanessa is set to move to Brasilia to study medicine.

This domestic background sets the scene for considering the importance of family, community, and how societal changes on a wider level filter down to fundamentally alter individual relationships and important communal dynamics.

Justino’s life has gone from hunting with a blowpipe and harvesting in a forest community to a very different routine: checking the padlocks on containers full of parts for TVs and air-conditioning units.

Something is afoot, and we don’t quite know what it is. He is struck by a fever, and haunted by disturbing dreams, sparked by media reports of a mysterious animal skulking round the city outskirts and attacking livestock.

Justino believes he has sensed the creature in the woods on his route home. But is this a delusion, caused by the stress and the hankering for life in the community he grew up in and not this scrubby, wasteland of a city that suggests modernisation is poisoned?

Director Maya Da-Rin has created something altogether beautiful: from the brilliant performance of the lead to the angles of shipping containers, the pulleys and hoists of the cranes that shift them about, and how this forms a strange contrast to Justino’s simple self-built shack.

His home, dark in corners, looks like a still-life painting. Da-Rin’s eye creates mesmerising moments of photography, coupled with a stillness that seems to mimic the gentle vibes coming from the lead.

Da-Rin set the film in the city of Manaus. Based in the north of Brazil, during the rule of the military dictatorship, the area was declared an economic-free zone. As ever, rapid industrialisation had a number of effects: it caused a migration by people moving from countryside to city in the hope of better jobs, healthcare and education – but Manaus’s growth was focused on economic power not social infrastructure.

The urban sprawl boomed into the jungle outskirts, and self-built homes were created without electricity or running water.

This a thoughtful look at the clash of old and new. It looks at the threat to long-held traditions and asks whether the industrialised world is an improvement on what generations of indigenous Brazilians created and nurtured in forest communities.

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