Reviewed byDaniela LimaVote: 8/10/10
It's a beautiful documentary that shows how are extremely strong theconnection between women in the same family. It is sad at the sametime, impossible not to shed tears. It has absolutely nothing to dowith the review above, that says that it is an ode to narcissism. Petramanaged to merge the three (mother, daughter and sister) in anincredible and poetic way. The art direction is also beautiful. The waythe mother describes her despair feelings just using words is alsoperfect. The soundtrack is one of the most beautiful I've heard in anydocumentary. The documentary is worth n many ways, as we can seeourselves in several situations.
Reviewed byCamilo VannuchiVote: 10/10/10
She was beautiful. She liked dancing, did theater in São Paulo, Brazil,and dreamed of being a Hollywood actress. When she turned 13, she got avideo cameraand a sister. They became a real twosome inexperimentations. As an adolescent, Elena spent a lot of time creatingshort films and took special care directing little Petra in the scenesshe invented. She was demanding and believed in her sister's potentialto meet with her raptures as precocious director. For five years, sheacted in some of the best São Paulo theater productions. She alsoauditioned for a few film and TV parts. She was never called.
Elena was 20 years old when, at the start of 1990, she moved to NewYork to further her studies in performing arts and strive for herchance in the American market. Out of place, anxious, frustrated aftersome unsuccessful acting auditions, disappointed over the lack ofrecognition and overtaken by a depression that deepened with the lackof perspectives, Elena committed suicide in the second half of theyear. Petra was 7. Twenty years later it is she, the baby sister, whoreturns to New York to retrace her sister's last steps, look throughher archives and transform her memories into images and poetry.
ELENA is a film about a sister who departs and a sister who stays. It'sa film about searching, loss, missing, but also, about finding, aboutlegacy, what is passed on, memory. A film about Petra's Elena andElena's Petra, about what remained of one in the other, andessentially, a film about delicateness/affection. In the competitiveBrasilia Film Festival, ELENA was outstanding among the participatingdocumentaries. It won four prizes: Audience Award for Best Documentary,Best Film Directing, Best Art Direction, and Best Editing.
Along this year, ELENA may not be in the spotlights, but is at par withand surpasses some of the films presented by the best Brazilianfilmmakers. And it indicates a promising path for the futuredocumentary: taking to the screen personal stories in which affectionis more relevant than reporting, and substituting the staid, overworkedtone of traditional biographies by an involving mosaic of sounds andimages, forms and content, research and delirium. The first featurefilm by Petra Costa, also director of the short "Olhos de Ressaca"("Undertow Eyes"), the new ELENA is built of old fragments, dug up byPetra from what was left by her sister: home videos, excerpts from adiary registered by Elena on audio tapes, old pictures that haveundergone the ravages of two decades in oblivion. It is also a filmthat shows, in recent images, the course taken by Petra to rediscoverElena: accounts by family and friends, an emotional and deeply humanmessage by her mother, a visit made by the production team to the houseand the hospital where the tragic end happens.
Once the film finishes, the spectator continues without knowing theacting of Elena in front of the cameras in 1990. Now, under the precisedirection of her younger sister, she finally triumphs on the screen."Of uncommon beauty, the film stays with us for a long time", wroteabout it the filmmaker Walter Salles. "It provokes 60 insights perminute", said film director Fernando Meirelles. To let yourself betaken in by the insights, involve yourself with Elena for as long as ittakes, is a must. (by Camilo Vannuchi, published in Brazilian siteÉpoca São Paulo in October 2012)
Reviewed bymgoazul007Vote: 1/10/10
Do not waste 80 minutes plus of your life watching this dog of a selfindulgent, narcissistic movie. The marvel of this film is NOT just thatit is excessively overdone , self indulgent, narcissistic, boring ( youwill NOT get that lost time back, folks) it is that this amateurish,selfish, docu-flick actually got funding from the several sources itmanaged to get funding from, that it was allowed to have a "space" intheaters to show such drivel. Look, if you had a nickel- spoiler alert-for every person who wanted to be a dancer/ film star/ film maker/director/ entertainer/singer , etc. who ended up not making it and theneither felt like dying, giving up or committing suicide youwould..literally ..be a billionaire! Not only is this a story ofsomeone without talent who couldn't cut it in the "biz" , above, whothen throws in towel and offs herself, its about her kid sister theactual director and yup true narcissism here playing as "actor" in themovie as both her sis and herself. "Look at Me" I'm a movie directorfolks who suckered people into funding this crappy, boring, selfishnarcissist no doubt because she had an over rated, over priced corrupt"Ivy league cartel" moxie. Basta! Enough already. There are thousandsof movies on that subject- defeated dreams , suicide, quitters- thatare far better that have NEVER SEEN the light of day and by people whoare less about "craving the wrong kind of attention" like this..ahem'director" and(alleged) "actor"
So many people with SAG cards do not selfishly kill themselves or whineabout someone who they know & love who was depressed, sad, or suicidalwho we know tried to kill themselves, decided not to , or who did it .This movie is nothing new but it is LOUSY. A waste of one's precioustime regardless of your age because...no pun intended ..Life is justtoo short to waste your afternoon watching a story that has zippo(nada)to do with a more compelling story..those who carry on once theirdreams die as is , face it, so often the case in this most superficial,materialistic, priorities askew, plasti9c, shallow US culture/ society.Incredible as in "not credible" that it actually got funding from sometop arts corps. Let's hope this selfish narcissistic lacking in talentDirector does not, sadly, follow in her defeated big sister's footstepsand upon rejection, kill herself, too. You don't make it? Wait Tables,wash dishes at 2 in the morning at the Clock restaurant to put bread onthe table for your 3 kids. Now THAT is a story, THAT is a Documentarywith some potential; THAT takes courage and yup, THAT is life. There isliterally nothing redeeming about this sub par waste of time & film.
Elena, a young Brazilian woman, travels to New York with the same dream as her mother, to become a movie actress. She leaves behind her childhood spent in hiding during the years of the military dictatorship. She also leaves Petra, her seven year old sister. Two decades later, Petra also becomes an actress and goes to New York in search of Elena. She only has a few clues about her: home movies, newspaper clippings, a diary and letters. At any moment Petra hopes to find Elena walking in the streets in a silk blouse. Gradually, the features of the two sisters are confused; we no longer know one from the other. When Petra finally finds Elena in an unexpected place, she has to learn to let her go.