In Brazil poet Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) finds inspiration and a passionate love for architect Lota (Glória Pires), who is already in a relationship with a friend of Elizabeth's. The Brazilian romantic drama enthralls with great pictures, a deep story and three great actresses.
Poetess Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) cannot find inspiration in New York anymore and her mentor, the poet Robert Lowell (Treat Williams), cannot help her either. Therefore, she decides for a change of scenery to visit her old college friend Mary (Tracy Middendorf) in Brazil. Mary lives in a secluded estate with the hot-blooded architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires). She is the exact opposite of the shy and reticent Elizabeth and initially disregards her for just this reason.
Elizabeth has to stay longer at Mary and Lota's due to illness, so the women get to know each other better. A passion buds between the dissimilar women and Elizabeth finds new inspiration for her poetry. Understandably Mary is jealous to take a back seat in Lota's life. Lota succeeds in bringing the love triangle into a functioning, but fragile balance. But when Elizabeth is nominated for the Pulitzer and Lota realizes the large project Flamingo Park in Rio, their life together begins to suffer.
"Reaching for the Moon" attends to the true story of Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Bishop intensely and beautifully. Brazil with its landscapes of lush vegetation is of course a visually stunning backdrop for a passionate story, and the production and costumes recreates the 1950s and 60s affectionately. This makes it very easy for director Bruno Baretto and his three talented and beautiful character actresses to fill the romance with emotional life.
Sensual, old-fashioned and pleasing - all in a positive sense - is the result, even if the story is sometimes melodramatic. But the film has regard to the complexity of the three strong women and forms the lesbian love story into a universally understandable and moving piece, which men will also be able to like.
For Europeans, the Brazilian Glória Pires, who portrays a very resolute and present Lota, will be a discovery, because although she has been standing in front of the camera since age 5, her films did not make it to Europe. Miranda Otto, however, is famous world-wide for such box-office hits as "War of the Worlds" by Steven Spielberg and because of her role of Eowyn in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Otto has the necessary shyness and vulnerability that makes Elizabeth so tangible and a brilliant counterpart to Lota.
Of course the main focus is on Elizabeth and her love for Lota. Mary, played by Tracy Middendorf ("Mission: Impossible III"), has a comparably minor role. This is probably the only slight drawback, because every once in a while one wishes, she would not show up only when needed. But this will probably not dull by any means the cinematic pleasure, which is complex and intense. Cineclub can fully recommend "Reaching for the Moon".
"Reaching for the Moon" lost narrowly to "The Broken Circle Breakdown" in the vote for the audience award in Berlin film festival's section Panorama.