Brazil

Brazil ★★★★★

"Listen, kid; we're all in it together." - Harry Tuttle

I nearly fell of my seat with horror when I realised that not only does Harry Tuttle say this as he abseils off into the night, but it is also on one of the many propaganda billboards towards the delirious climax of the film. Because not only has Brazil created a world horrific enough to be distanced from our own, but it also has elements that would ring true in our own (very British) current situations.

Brazil is prophetic dystopia at its most hyperbolic, nightmarish and accurate. The concept of ruthless efficiency through seas of paperwork is as strictly fantasy as the epic samurai battle that our winged hero engages in, but the central theme is scary, the execution cutting. IRA paranoia rings true in our post-9/11 world, chilling just as much as it did 29 years ago.

That being said, Gilliam and co. keep watchably light enough. The distinct brand of Pythonesque humour comes in the slapstick moving table antics and the bizarre exchanges with the Terrain family ("Salt!...Pepper!"), while the central screwball plotline is endearing, largely due to a beautifully dysfunctional relationship between Jonathan Pryce and Kim Griest. The mix of dreamy action, black comedy and sinister social commentary never jars when it, by rule, should, and this marks Brazil as the truly great dystopia movie this side of A Clockwork Orange.

Jonathan Pryce gives a wonderful performance of stress, glee and panic in turn, while cameoing actors like Bob Hoskins and Robert De Niro have huge amounts of fun in silly costumes and delicious dialogue. Kim Griest is a delight too, but the show is stolen by 'Britain's Nicest Man' Michael Palin as the ultimate unsettling character who walks the thin red line between good and evil. He's sublime as ever-pleasant family-man and government-paid torturer in turn, and he leaves the biggest impression in a film of pretty big impressions.

Gilliam's definitive work of creative genius is simply one of those films that you can visit time and time again to laugh at, gasp at, cry at; he has splashed his mind on the screen and it's a gloriously crazy experience. Bravo.

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