By Don Simpson | February 26, 2015
Director: Karim Aïnouz
Writer: Karim Aïnouz, Felipe Bragança
Starring: Wagner Moura, Clemens Schick, Jesuíta Barbosa, Fred Lima, Savio Ygor Ramos
Fueled by Suicide’s dissonant electro-punk anthem “Ghost Rider,” two motorcyclists speed across the dunes of the idyllic Brazilian coastline. They disembark their bikes at the titular Futuro Beach to immerse themselves in the dangerous surf. Heiko (Fred Lima) and Konrad (Clemens Schick) find themselves dragged underwater by an insatiable undertow, attracting the attention of two lifeguards. Heiko falls prey to an accidental drowning, leaving Konrad, his close friend and former brother-in-arms, directionless and alone in a foreign land.
Riddled by the heroic guilt of his inability to save Heiko, Donato (Wagner Moura), the lifeguard, offers to comfort Konrad; a relationship transpires, eventually convincing Donato to abandon his family — including 10-year-old brother, Ayrton (Savio Ygor Ramos) — and relocate to the landlocked city of Berlin. It is not long before Donato begins to feel, quite literally, like a fish out of water. Gone are his days of being a heroic lifeguard at Brazil’s most dangerous beach, as are his days of playing Aquaman for his aquaphobic younger brother; now Donato is an utter nobody in a concrete jungle. Rather than basking in the Brazilian sunlight, Donato is reduced to soaking in the dance floor lights of underground nightclubs.
Many years later, in the final third of this clearly defined three-act narrative, a much older Ayrton (Jesuíta Barbosa) appears in Berlin to scold Donato for abandoning him. It is the classic trope of a hero destined for disappointment. In his submissive attempt to comfort Konrad after Heiko’s death, Donato devastated Ayrton, the one person who admired him unconditionally; thus, Karim Aïnouz’s Futuro Beach contemplates the age-old choice between family and love.
Playing with the obvious metaphors of drowning and being lost at sea, Aïnouz presents Donato as a powerful swimmer in Brazil who can barely tread water in Germany. After submerging himself into a tumultuous relationship with Konrad, Donato becomes a lifeless body, completely overwhelmed by life’s rough currents. If there is one common theme throughout Futuro Beach, it is the loss of control, or the human inability to remain buoyant. There are ups and downs in life, the secret is to not let those evil undercurrents overcome you.