[Seattle International Film Festival] Rust (2018) - Reviewed

Rust screened at SIFF

This Brazilian offering, known also as Ferregum, is the latest from director Aly Muritibia. A drama in Portuguese with English subtitles, the film starts with a group of phone-toting teenagers hanging out, depicting how obsessed the world has become with social media. 

Tati, recently going through a break-up, finds solace in her new crush, Renet, who is secretly fond of her as well. As the two finally hit it off, their exchange leads to a mutual admission of fondness. However, Rust is not some soppy teen romance. Their budding romance soon turns to tragedy, and Muritibia takes us on a journey that addresses not only the dangers of social media and bullying, but also the depths of guilt, circumstantial regret and mourning. 

This is a sombre, but powerful film that buries its claws deep into the psyche of the viewer to make its point. Not once does it become boring, although it never rushes along. Profound in its message of consideration for repercussions and the abuse of social media, Rust is beautifully directed and acted all the way through.

It is a striking drama about common (and costly) mistakes, loyalty and the blurred lines in between. We are forced to consider where propriety ends and vindictive behaviour takes on an innocent need for attention. Muritibia splits the film into two parts, effectively separating the emotional abuse from both sides of the tragedy. With this, the director presents the other side of the story, although assuring us that neither side is completely free of blame. Splendidly acted by the whole cast, we are mainly drawn to the quiet excellence of the two principal actors’ delivery.

Newcomer Tifanny Dopke is Tati (Tatiana), the smitten girl who loses her phone and ultimately her dignity and reputation. Her portrayal of desperation and emotional torment at the hands of her detractors is arresting, but it is Renet, played by Giovanni di Lorenzi, that grips you and twists. His acting is superb as he meanders through the guilt, while at the same time trying to make sense of his parents’ disconnected lives while they are attempting to coax him into telling them the truth of what happened.

The other characters in the film are perfect in supporting the dilemma of the teenager, all delivering believable reactions to the main incident in the film as well as their own respective quandaries. Do not let the word ‘drama’ evoke some sense of boredom from you. Rust is an excellent commentary on where objectivity stops to become a quagmire of morality, based on subjective involvement. A point made exquisitely by the collective efforts of cast and crew. 

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-Tasha Danzig