Bruno (Nicolas Vargas), still wearing his military uniform when checking in at a Porto Alegre inn, comes across as a typically polite soldier at first. We soon see that the seemingly disciplined and obedient young man is preoccupied though; and that his mission in this city in the south of Brazil is personal. While searching the city for his estranged brother, Bruno comes into contact with several queer bohemians who quickly see past his uniform and recognize him as one of their own.
The Nest’s structure is tough to describe. Though listed as a “feature,” it plays more like an anthology, one divided into four 25-minute episodes. While I had no idea what filmmakers Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon were up to at first, the episodic framing felt appropriate once I dived further into the film. I was moved by some parts more than others of course, and everyone is likely to have their own favourite episode. Mine is the second part. While part of me had wished that episode one had spent a little less time on Bruno partying with some new friends, the morning after in episode two was just sublime. Bruno and his friends may not have expected much from their breakfast with an old man, who lives across the street, but they soon discover that they have more in common with this free-thinking lonely man than they thought.
Like any good televised serial, The Nest tells one big story – Bruno’s search for his brother and four significant connections he makes along the way- with each episode having its own focus. Without clearly dividing its story into four separate parts, the feature would probably come across as disjointed. Frankly I can easily think of a few recent features films that would have benefited from Matzembacher and Reolon’s unique approach.
Where is Bruno’s brother? It’s the question that sucked me in but by the end I realized it was never about that. The Nest may be stingy with easy answers but not on feeling. It’s a wonderful study of how important human connection with those who understand us can be, especially when those who don’t can be so unkind.
Sunday, May 29, 9:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets can be purchased at the Inside Out website.