Flores Raras (in English, Rare Flowers, although I believe the movie has been called Reaching For The Moon in the USA) is a brazilian movie about the relationship between the american poet Elizabeth Bishop and the brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, a movie I would dare to say I could only watch while visiting Brazil. Few opportunities I had while living in Ohio to watch foreign movies, mostly because they are not available in any theatre in a radius of 40 miles from my house. Even movies like this one, mainly spoke in English, would have a tough time to find its way to ohioan theaters.
The movie is not perfect, it actually has many flaws, one of them being the sometimes overly butch interpretation of Lota, performed by brazilian actress Gloria Pires, while trying to portray somebody confident, impetuous and strong minded. Lota’s character is a dissonant contrast in comparison to the brittle Elizabeth Bishop, performed by the australian actress Miranda Otto. Bishop is characterized as an alcoholic whose self esteem and confidence only grows during her 20 years relationship with Lota, despite their cultural and social differences that sometimes get in the way. This period is when her poetry reaches its full potential and the poet won the Pulitzer Prize, in 1956. It is also an intricate political and historical time for Brazil, something that is brought to light a few times during the narrative.
The relationship between the two women is beautifully portrayed, alternating delicate, tender, loving scenes, with sexy scenes without appealing to the vulgar, cheap elements of sex, trying successfully not to become a source of harassment, or a porn movie. According to the director, Bruno Barreto, that was one of the concerns during the shooting.
From my point of view, their encounter is much more interesting from the creative, professional point of view, like a collision between two gigantic forces from different natures and cultures. In their own way, two courageous, bold women who defied conventions by assuming their own lifestyle. In that sense, the movie satisfies my literary curiosity by showing a little bit about Elizabeth Bishop’s life, which is always interesting.
- 2013 Cinema Q Film Festival: Denver looks at “Cruising,” Bishop, more at annual GLBT film fest (denverpost.com)