Based on the novel by Jorge Amado, director Bruno Barreto’s provocative erotic comedy, DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS (1976), was the most successful film in Brazilian history for thirty-five years, was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Best Foreign Film” and made Sonia Braga an international superstar.
Following the strange events that befall Doña Flor (Braga, Kiss of the Spider Woman) after she is widowed following the death of her savage and womanizing husband, Vadinho (José Wilker), she attempts to marry more wisely the second time. The hauntingly beautiful widow succeeds, but when she discovers that her pharmacist husband has no interest in sex, she happily takes in the sexy ghost of her late husband.
For thoughts on Dona Flor and her two husbands, please see our discussion on The Video Attic:
Dona Flor and her two husbands makes its Blu-Ray debut courtesy of Film Movement Classics with a 1080p 1.85:1 encoded AVC digital transfer derived from a 4K restoration. While there are still areas where the source could probably be improved a bit with more thorough cleaning, this transfer looks really nice and natural with well-resolved film grain. Instances of print damage such as nicks and scratches are not uncommon, but overall clarity and detail is excellent. The texture present in the design and production environment is particularly impressive. Presentation is pleasing for most of the runtime, with image stability and delineation being top-notch. The colors may tend towards a more earthy palette, but you still get some great hues. Black levels hold up well with very little crushing. This presentation isn’t a home run due to source limitations, but it’s nice to have this movie available in such solid quality.
This new Blu-Ray comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track and an LPCM 2.0 mono track which both showcase all the sounds from the movie pretty well. The new surround soundtrack opens up the world in a pretty great way, but the mix can sound a bit aggressive in a way that makes the original mono a more enjoyable experience. It’s a film that uses the music very well, with the score playing quite well. This music and all the others are presented with fine clarity and pleasing fidelity as they flow through the room. The dialogue holds without fail, comes through clearly without being trampled on by music or sound effects. The environmental effects are well delineated without getting lost in the mix. The track avoids most major cases of age-related wear or distortion. Most will find this audio track to be a good experience. Optional English subtitles are provided on this disc.
This Blu-Ray set includes a multi-page booklet featuring the essay “Oh Bahia” by film producer and costume designer Mary Jane Marcasiano. This essay provides a great amount of cinematic context to the film, analyzes themes, aesthetics and plot developments, and much more, making it a wonderful read. The special on-disc features are as follows:
- Audio commentary: Director Bruno Barreto offers an entertaining and informative commentary track in which he reflects on the film’s legacy and production, the ensemble’s performances, the importance of food in the narrative, the censorship imposed on the film in some country, how the film reflects the country’s values at the time and much more for a decent listening experience.
- Dona Flor In the wings: An eight-minute archival piece that takes you on the production set as you learn about the adaptation, see footage of Barreto directing his performers and more.
- Trailer: A minute and a half trailer for this new restoration is provided here. Trailers are also provided for Marquise, The Innocent, and Midaq Alley.
Dona Flor and her two husbands is a film that takes the old story of a dissatisfied and abused woman who claims her power, and puts a unique and entertaining twist on the proceedings. Sonia Braga is piercing in the lead role as she radiates sexuality, vulnerability and confidence in equal measure. There are elements of this film that are less acceptable in a modern context, but that doesn’t take away from the sensuality and humor that runs through this feature film. While the script could probably be tightened up to unfold a little faster, this trip is a good one. Film Movement Classics has reintroduced this movie to a new audience with a brand new Blu-Ray that has a really good A/V presentation and a decent range of fun extra features to check out. Anyone who wants to learn more about what Brazilian cinema has to offer should not hesitate with this one. Recommended
Dona Flor and her two husbands is currently available for purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital.
Note: Images shown in this review do not reflect Blu-Ray image quality.
Disclaimer: Film Movement Classics has provided a free copy of this disc for review. All opinions expressed in this review are the honest reactions of the author.