Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands

Director: Bruno Barreto
Year Released: 1976
Rating: 3.0

The title heroine (Sonia Braga), a simple woman, starts off with Husband #1 (José Wilker), a lusty gambler who takes risks and drinks and screws around too much … but he dies, leaving her to replace him with Husband #2 (Mauro Mendonça), an anal-retentive pharmacist who plays a bassoon and is somewhat conservative in bed. Wilker's presence is so powerful he carries the movie alone (and purposely so): it's easy to see what made Dona Flor fall in love with him in the first place and what kept her going back to him even after he gambled his clothes away or spent several days with whores just like it's easy to see why she 'conjures' his spectral eminence when Marriage #2 becomes emotionally stale. The film suggests that while marriages to wild, immature people may be exciting, by nature they're too chaotic to last, and that the reliable marriages need a good dose of fantasy/imagination to keep from getting impossibly stale. It's silly and crude but it's fun and makes a valid point - it's a female version of the Mother/Whore Freudian complex; here it's the Father and the Gigolo - and quite possibly had an influence on the later female-centered films of Pedro Almodóvar.