From beginning to end is 2009 Brazilian film following the lives of brothers Thomas and Francisco as their relationship develops from a close childhood bond into an ultimately romantic and sexual relationship. The boys grow up in a very bourgeois environment with a doctor mother, architect father, doting nanny and a house which wouldn’t look out of place on Grand Designs. The boys’ relationship is always close but the parents don’t have any suspicions until one the brothers breaks his arm and the other becomes unnaturally defensive and caring.
The brothers both swim competitively and Thomas always idolises his older brother Francisco and vows to be faster than him one day. That day comes around when the brothers are men and Thomas gets invited to Russia to train for the Olympic Games.
As the brothers age and the parents begin to pass away we are left to examine the undeniably unhealthy and co-dependent relationship they share and how they deal with long-term geographical separation for the first time
Reading that plot summary you might expect a controversial film combining both homosexuality and incest into one toxic relationship but what you get Is a largely innocuous film with little conflict, or indeed plot, to carry it along. The parents eventually figure out what’s going on but do nothing to intervene or even confront the brothers, not once is the incestuous aspect of their relationship properly examined or criticised which left my feeling a bit cheated. The director, Aluzio Abranches, said he wanted to show a love story regardless of conditions but surely an incestuous relationship would surely at least be questioned by their relatives.
I also found the acting a bit lacking, the parents were all very good but the brothers themselves left a lot to be desired. The older brother, played by João Gabriel Vasconcellos spent an entire scene where he ended up kissing a woman stupidly laughing before each bit of dialogue, rendering what could have been an interesting point into a cringe-worthy farce.
The director also never saw a slow-motion scene he didn’t like, incorporating at least 5 into this film, all of which lasted too long and added little to the story. For example their was an idyllic family scene slow-mo which lasted at lasted for at least a minute and did nothing but emphasise the already established fact that this was a happy bourgeois family.
A sliver of silver lining comes from the fact the brothers are both extremely good-looking but this really is little consolation for a very uninteresting and disappointing film. Granted, some of the early scenes with the brothers being very intimate at a young age are a bit creepy but there is very little subsequent conflict or narrative to hold your interest. I like to think of the title of the film as a challenge, can you watch this film From Beginning to End? Not due to anything controversial, just due to the fact it’s so boring.