SXSW 2021: “Executive Order”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Brazil, apart from being a soccer nation, is a nation of cinema that is rich with purity. Be it series or films, Brazil stands out from so many countries, including the projects delivered in Hollywood. “Executive Order” is a bold movie that explores racism in society, forcing one to ask the question: can we live in peace if we continue tearing one another apart?

Set in a dystopian near-future, there is intolerance among the white society towards the black community. The government issues an executive order to send every single black Brazilian back to Africa, stating, “If you don’t like how we treat you, go to where you think you can be treated equally.” In an unprecedented move, out of the chaos, a hero is born. Along with cousin Andre, Antonio resists and refuses to be forced out of their apartment at all cost.

As usual, like in every Brazilian movie, the acting is top-notch. Unsurprisingly, the two antagonist parts were given to skillful actresses who are well-experienced in playing villains; Renata Sorrah as Ms Isildinha and Adriana Esteves as Isabel, an inspector who executes the government’s executive order. If you are familiar with their work, then you should be prepared to despise their characters to the fullest because the two masters of acting know how to get under your skin.

Antonio (Alfred Enoch) is a lawyer and ‘high-melanin’, like every African is considered to be. Antonio has high morality and is neither violent nor aggressive. When he got the chance to pull the trigger, he steps back and says, “I won’t do it. I would rather fight with my brain than with a gun!” which literally turns him into a national hero. Through him, we see how genuine and kind-hearted a person he is and why it’s not easy to break him emotionally. When chaos erupts like a volcano, Antonio’s wife, Capitu (Tais Araujo) finds refuge in a place she least expected – but a place with hope and breakthrough, waiting for its moment to shine.

From director Lázaro Ramps, “Executive Order” is an exceptional film with an intelligent concept that will make you think. Providing food for thought, the film reveals the wounds of society through its blind approach towards those who they believe have taken their place in society by demanding what the government is not equipped to provide: justice, fairness and equality. Therefore, instead of fixing it, the government provides a one-way ticket, hoping to reduce the number of a black people to zero, not realizing they’re simply downgrading themselves to the bottom along with indecent humans. Believing no solution is better than one is the only way a government can control, which is what” Executive Order” perfectly emphasizes.   

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