TIFF 2019 Review: The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão

by Andrew Parker

The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão, which won Un Certain Regard at Cannes earlier this year, is a vibrant, socially relevant, and richly told story of sisterhood ripped apart by men who see women as nothing more than baby making objects.

The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão opens in 1950s Rio de Janeiro with a look at the lives of two different, but devoted sisters. Shy and reserved Eurídice (Carol Duarte) doesn’t care much for boys and is skittish about sex, but she’s also due to be married to the son of one of her conservative minded, bakery owning father’s most prized distributors. Older sister Guida (Julia Stockler) is boy crazy and ends up eloping to Europe to follow a Greek sailor. Not long after Eurídice’s abysmal wedding night, Guida returns to Rio alone and very pregnant. Still furious about his daughter’s abandonment of the family and disgusted that she’s about to give birth to a bastard, Guida’s father disowns her and throws her out onto the street. Eurídice, who has long since moved out and is still chasing her dream of studying piano at the Vienna Conservatory, has no idea that Guida has returned. Eurídice’s parents never mention that they saw her sister, and Guida is told that Eurídice has already left for Vienna. It’s a lie that perpetuates for years, with Guida desperately writing her sister and never receiving a response.

Directed and co-written by Brazilian auteur Karim Aïnouz and adapted from Martha Batalha’s bestselling novel, The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão is the sort of well paced and all encompassing dramatic epic where years can pass and major changes can occur across the span of a single line of dialogue or well placed edit. Eurídice might be the title character, but it’s just as much Guida’s story, with the estranged sister’s arc frequently carrying more resonance. Together, Aïnouz parallel narratives honestly illustrates the loneliness of women when patriarchy is at its most powerful. The loneliness and longing experienced by Eurídice and Guida is both literal and emotional, and every success experienced by the characters still comes laced with tinges of heartbreak and disappointment. 

The sadness and frustration throughout The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão is palpable and realistic, and even though it starts to drag in the latter stages, Aïnouz’s latest is one of this year’s best depictions of women on screen that wasn’t made by a female filmmaker.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 – 5:45 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Thursday, September 12, 2019 – 6:15 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 2

Sunday, September 15, 2019 – 3:15 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 14

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