In Fellipe Garamano Barbosa’s documentary Laura, we are introduced to a modern-day Holly Golightly. She has no job and no apparent source of income save for mysterious money wires that she receives from Brazil. And yet inexplicably she is out every night socialising with celebrities and New York’s elite. If there is a film premiere or a party at the Waldorf Astoria she will find her way in and once inside effortlessly work the room.
The little we manage to learn about the “real “Laura is that she was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the move from there to Brazil when she was 13 was traumatizing for her. She has a house in the south of Brazil that sits empty save for piles of boxes of her belongings and she has an ailing elderly mother who still resides in Brazil. Her hoarding is a recurring element throughout the film, and I have to say that I was surprised that it was somehow confined to just one room. It almost seems like she cleaned up the rest before Barbosa and his crew arrived. It is hard to watch someone so deluded and so resistant of any kind of help.
Laura was 57 at the time the film was made and it seems that like other great eccentrics (The Marchesa Casati comes to mind) her behaviour may already be too far engrained. The closest she ever comes to trying to help herself is by visiting Dona Grecia, an old woman who reads her tea leaves.
There is a beautifully shot scene close to the end where Laura is attending a New Years party at some Millionaire’s house. Through the course of the night she has somehow acquired a platinum blonde wig and is visibly intoxicated. She looks into Barbosa’s camera and says, “You know nothing about Laura. You think you do You don’t know a thing.” This neatly sums up the constant power struggle between subject and director for control of the documentary. Despite this, Barbosa is patient with her and tries to draw out the “real” Laura. From the onset, however, Laura obviously decided that this would not happen and although at times we feel that we might be seeing a glimpse of her, it is never quite real. She enjoys using the presence of the crew as an entourage when she goes to events but resents them trying to capture the less glamorous aspects of her life. To Barbosa’s credit Laura is a difficult and often mercurial subject and he does his best to work with what she is willing to give him. The end result is a captivating if not entirely fulfilling portrait of a unique and strangely enigmatic woman.
Latest posts by Danielle La Valle (see all)
- Review: Portrait of Wally – February 8, 2013
- Great films outdoors this summer at Christie Pits Film Festival 2012 – July 13, 2012
- Three Jonathan Demme films at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema this weekend – July 11, 2012