Sonia Braga enters the Oscar race with “Aquarius”

by Chris Narloch

If you want to see the sort of acting that wins praise from critics and gets an actor on the short list of potential Oscar nominees, then you should check out a terrific Brazilian drama now playing at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

In “Aquarius,” the great Brazilian actress Sonia Braga (“Kiss of the Spiderwoman”) plays Clara, a proud 65-year-old widow and music critic, who was born into a wealthy and traditional family in Recife, Brazil.
Clara is the last resident of the Aquarius, an original two-story building slated for demolition that was built in the 1940s in an upper class, seaside neighborhood, of Recife.

All of Clara’s neighbors have sold their apartments to developers who are planning to build modern, high-rise structures on the site, but Clara pledges to only leave her home upon her death.

Braga, who is actually 66, is still a strikingly beautiful woman, and she gives Clara an earthy strength that helps the movie transcend its familiar “David vs. Goliath” setup.
The actress is equally passionate, whether engaging in a cold war with the development company, arguing with her children, or making love with a hot, young gigolo.   

The real estate battle gets Clara fired up and also finds her thinking about her loved ones, her past and her future.

Braga is a marvel throughout, and the actress could be a surprise foreign addition to the normally North American slate of Best Actress nominees when Oscar time rolls around.

I’m not sure how long “Aquarius” will be playing at the Tower, so my advice is to see it soon. You won’t be disappointed.

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