Survival instinct: “Bufo & Spallanzani” [2001, Brazil]

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Wishing you all a happy 2017!

 

Bufo & SpallanzaniFlávio Tambellini’s thriller “Bufo & Spallanzani” is a dramatisation of popular Brazilian novelist Rubem Fonseca’s novel by the same. The title alludes to tortuous experiments conducted by an Italian scientist – Spallanzani, to study a frog’s regenerative capacity sometime during the nineteenth century.

Maitê Proença and Tony Ramos in "Bufo & Spallanzani" (2001)The film begins with the discovery of socialite Delfina’s (Maitê Proença) body in her car at a wooded area. With a bullet wound through her heart and a pistol by her side, initial investigations point towards a suicide, but forensic analysis, conducted on the insistence of shrewd investigator Guedes (Tony Ramos) reveals a murder.

Tony Ramos, Isabel Guéron, and José Mayer in "Bufo & Spallanzani" (2001)The plot thickens when Flávio (José Mayer), a bestselling author, visits Guedes with his girlfriend Minolta (Isabel Guéron). He admits to being in an intimate relationship with Delfina, and apart from accusing Delfina’s husband Delamare of murdering his wife, also claims that Delamare is out to get kill him too after discovering the affair.

Isabel Guéron and José Mayer in "Bufo & Spallanzani" (2001)Running parallel to this story is Flávio’s previous life from a decade ago when he, then called Ivan Canabrava, used to work for Delamare’s insurance company as a claims investigator. He lands himself in hot water after he unearths a false claim that Delamare himself seems to have been party to, and had to ‘disappear’ with new girlfriend Minolta – he takes on a new identity and becomes a writer.

José Mayer and Tony Ramos in "Bufo & Spallanzani" (2001)The incorruptible and dogged sleuth in Guedes refuses to buy Flavio’s version of events, but he however agrees that Flavio’s life is indeed in danger and arrives on time to rescue him. In the meantime, Guedes is under immense pressure from his boss to close the case due to people higher up bearing down upon him to hush things up…

Isabel Guéron in "Bufo & Spallanzani" (2001)I haven’t read the novel myself, but judging by the intricate plot, I couldn’t help wondering that the sense of suspense was lost in translation on several occasions, and some facets that might have inquired the mind during a read nevertheless get mixed up with mundane events in the film. Regardless of these tiny flaws, it is a valiant attempt at a genre that Brazilian cinema, unlike neighbouring Argentina, hasn’t been that much accustomed to. The soundtrack is appealing, and the technicians have done a good job in putting it together. For anyone who enjoys intelligent mainstream films, it is of course, Recommended Viewing..!

DVD Purchase Link [NTSC]

 

The Nudity: Maitê Proença and Isabel Guéron
There is brief nudity from Maitê Proença during a sex scene, but those of Isabel Guéron’s character Minolta – akin to a Brazilian version of Crystal Fairy, are certainly among the more memorable scenes in the film. She appears nude in at least three well-lit scenes.

Isabel Guéron in scenes from the Brazilian thriller, "Bufo & Spallanzani" (2001)

Isabel Guéron in scenes from the Brazilian thriller, “Bufo & Spallanzani” (2001).

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