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Original title: Todas As Razões Para Esquecer

aka All the Reasons to Forget

D: Pedro Coutinho / 90m

Cast: Johnny Massaro, Bianca Comparato, Regina Braga, Maria Laura Nogueiro, Victor Mendes, Thiago Amaral, Rafael Primot

Antonio (Massaro) is an ad designer whose relationship with Sofia (Comparato) comes to an abrupt end after two years. Convincing himself that she made him end it, Antonio stays temporarily with his cousin, Carla (Nogueira), and her husband, Felipe (Primot). Carla and Felipe are having marriage problems and are seeing a couples therapist, Dr Elisa (Braga). When it’s suggested that Antonio should see her so he can make sense of his break-up from Sofia, he goes along with the idea without considering if therapy will really help him. While Dr Elisa challenges Antonio to open up and express his feelings, he takes advice from Carla and his friends, neighbour Deco (Amaral), and would-be writer Gabriel (Mendes), and tries to win Sofia back. His efforts don’t work as planned, and it’s not until Dr Elisa prescribes a certain mix of medication that Antonio finds his life improving, and things getting arguably better. But will Antonio’s newly found peace of mind help in winning back Sofia…?

A romantic comedy about one man’s tragic inability to understand the nuances and particularities of romantic relationships, Every Reason to Forget is an amiable, pleasant enough movie that somehow makes a virtue of its main character’s vapid intelligence and startling short-sightedness. Antonio isn’t just clueless, he’s actively clueless. He’s like a child who keeps burning his fingers on the stove but can’t work out why it keeps happening. He knows there’s a reason why he and Sofia are no longer together but he can’t work out what it is. This makes it nigh impossible for him to move on with his life, and why he makes so many mistakes in trying to do so. Faced with such an uphill struggle, Antonio resorts to measures such as finding a match on Tinder, and using relationship questions from a teen magazine to highlight how much more in tune he is. Amusing as much of this is though, writer-director Coutinho – making his feature debut – never really clarifies if Antonio is doing all this to win Sofia back (initially most likely), or for himself (increasingly most likely). And why he’s the way he is isn’t explored at all, leaving the viewer to wonder just how his relationship with Sofia lasted for two whole years in the first place.

As the emotionally switched off Antonio, Massaro has a certain vulnerable charm that works well for the character, and when the movie gets a little darker – which isn’t too often – he’s not afraid to make Antonio appear selfish and inconsiderate. Massaro also has a knack for keeping Antonio sympathetic in these moments, and though he’s someone for whom the art of poorly focused navel-gazing seems to be a built-in personality trait, Massaro’s portrayal of Antonio is effective without feeling contrived. There’s good support too from Braga as Antonio’s sex obsessed therapist, and Nogueira as the cousin who, in a US remake, would likely be the character he ends up with. Coutinho keeps things moving at an even pace, but in doing so, makes this occasionally feel like it’s dragging, and it’s not as willingly dramatic as it could have been. Despite this, and despite Antonio’s perpetual misunderstanding of his own imperfections, Coutinho does his best to make this an amusing and somewhat pleasant diversion, even though you might be wondering if there’s ever going to be any depth to the proceedings. The answer is yes, but with reservations as to when they do.

Rating: 5/10 – too monotone in its dramatic and visual approach – Joao Padua’s cinematography sometimes feels as if there wasn’t enough time for a proper set up – Every Reason to Forget is genial enough but lets its main character off the hook for his behaviour once too often; still, Coutinho shows promise, and with a tighter script in the future, should do much better, but until then this outing will have to serve as a fair attempt at putting a Brazilian twist on a well established genre.

NOTE: Currently there isn’t a trailer with English subtitles available.