4/10 The last of the 2020 Academy Award nominated documentaries that I hadn’t yet seen, I found it appropriate to give this a look not only because of the Oscar clout (it lost to the vastly overrated “American Factory”) but also due to the upcoming American Presidential election. Unfortunately, all five nominees for Best Documentary at the Oscars earlier this year (which seems like forever ago now) were very weak and I was surprised all of these titles were even nominated. “The Edge of Democracy” takes a political look at Brazil and one film maker’s journey in following Brazilian politics in her lifetime as she has grown up. The movie starts strong and seems fairly balanced and unbiased as we quickly grow to understand that corruption runs rampant in Brazil across every political party. In American politics we often reference “the swamp” or “the establishment” and Brazil seems to be 100% swamp land with promising politicians having to break their promises and join with groups they’ve condemned so they can get their agendas accomplished. It is a rather somber, depressing look at the country’s politics but in no way surprising. Some of the history behind individual movements and causes taken up was interesting. The B roll footage used was also very well done and professional. Despite the strong beginning, solid B roll footage and an initial unbiased look at corruption, as the movie goes on, it starts to fall apart. One problem is that the movie tries to cover so much material and so many politicians; decades worth of events, people, revolutions, corruption, etc. So many names and people are tossed around and although we have enough time with the main politicians that the movie looks at, too many others aren’t in the movie long enough to be useful or worthwhile. If you live in Brazil or are from Brazil, it might be easier to follow and recognize all the familiar faces but for people such as myself, outside of Brazil, it becomes hard to keep up with how much information is thrown our way in the two hour running time. Speaking of the running time, the movie is rather dull and slowly paced. There isn’t one gigantic scandal covered that will shock you or blow you away. Even Operation Car Wash isn’t the attention grabber one would hope it would be. Writer/producer/director Petra Costa gives her personal story but no one is interviewed in this documentary which is quite the rarity. Therefore, we have to trust that Costa is being completely honest in her telling of this story but once we reach the halfway point, some of her political bias really begins to come out, compromising the movie and making the audience question some of the material. There is nothing wrong with having biases as everyone does but when you are the lone voice of a documentary and not interviewing opposing sides of issues, your credibility does begin to crumble, or at the very least the illusion of your credibility does. If you are big into Brazilian politics, I am sure you will get something out of this but for everyone else, this documentary does nothing to draw in outsiders, lacks a payoff and tries to pack too much into a slowly paced movie. There might be noble intentions behind the movie but this is one you can skip and find some other political documentary to watch instead.
#WinAtAnyCosta / #BrazilianWaxesAndTaxes / #AllTheMoroReasonToFight / #SilvaLiningsPlaybook / #ClaimsAndTheGiantImpeach / #PetraFiedOfCommunism