‘Charcoal’ Review (TIFF 2022): A Farcical Art House Film

There’s a point very early on in writer-director Carolina Markowicz’s debut film Charcoal where I found myself baffled by how crass and horribly earnest the new nurse (Aline Marta Maia) who came by to treat Irene’s (Maeve Jinkings) father was. Irene was innocently explaining how she hoped he could get better and the nurse just snapped back telling her that basically, he was whittling away every second he spent on that bed.

It took me by surprise because at that point it felt more like a gritty and realistic art house movie about the mundane and tragic life of these Brazilian farmers. But instead, the movie took a sharp turn and just careened off into the abyss. Does it work and does this sharp tonal shift effectively bring something different to the table? Sort of, the mileage may vary.


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