Film Review: The Cannibal Club (O Clube dos Canibais)

Guto Parente’s The Cannibal Club (O Clube dos Canibais) is an unsubtle satire on Brazil’s ultra-wealthy society. The film is a dark, unsettling watch.

Octavio and Gilda live a privileged existence. Separated from the rest of society in their protected mansion, the wealthy couple have an usual predilection. Their servants are also their prospective next meal…

Writer-director Guto Parente delivers a unapologetically biting satire with The Cannibal Club.   The premise is not particularly revolutionary; a wealthy couple treating their servants in the most disposable manner is something that has been depicted several times before. What distinguishes The Cannibal Club from similar tales is the tact that Parente takes. The film is very dark, with irredeemable protagonists.

Octavio and Gilda commit their acts for pleasure, knowing their victims’ disappearances will not be looked into. Parente presents the couple as feckless; choosing their victims and perpetrating crimes to alleviate the boredom of their lives. Their complete lack of morality is stark; choosing their victims with specific questioning and only worrying about getting caught when it comes to a potential victim in their social class. Parente is vicious in his depiction of the central pair, and indeed Octavio’s boss Borges.

As the film progresses, a twist in the narrative ensures that Octavio and Gilda are the ones who are now fearful. The finale is not as tense as perhaps intended, but the finale sequence feels fitting. There are a few gory scenes, but these are used sparingly. Ana Luiza Rios delivers an assured performance as Gilda. Pedro Domingues is well cast as Borges; there is a coldness to him, particularly in the office conversation with Gilda, which is most fitting.

At 81 minutes, The Cannibal Club makes it point succinctly. Parente skewers his target with an obdurate ferocity.

The Cannibal Club (O Clube dos Canibais) will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

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