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Bruno Barreto
Sônia Braga, José Wilker, Mauro Mendonça
Writing Credits:
Bruno Barreto, Eduardo Coutinho

A widow's first husband haunts her when she remarries.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Portuguese PCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $24.95
Release Date: 7/26/2022

• Audio Commentary with Director Bruno Barreto
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Trailers
• Booklet


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Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands [Blu-Ray] (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 10, 2022)

Though I wouldn’t say Sônia Braga ever became a true movie star in the United States, she earned much greater fame here than most Brazilian actors. With 1976’s Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, we find the film that first launched Braga’s international fame.

Flor (Braga) suffers through her marriage to Vadinho (José Wilker), an irresponsible lout whose careless ways bring many problems. This situation changes when Vadinho suddenly drops dead and leaves Flor a widow.

When Flor remarries, she chooses Teodoro (Mauro Mendonça), a stable but dull pharmacist. Stuck in a safe but boring life, Flor finds herself haunted by the ghost of Vadinho, as his spirit attempts to bring more spark to her bland existence.

Though Husbands literally opens with Vadinho’s death, this doesn’t mean he fails to become a significant character pre-demise. Once his funeral ends, the film flashes back to the wedding of Flor and Vadinho to illustrate what he cad he was literally from the start of their union.

Some of this makes sense, but Husbands goes overboard and makes Vadinho too much the star of the show. While a bit of background works, the film’s first half focuses so heavily on this role that it leaves poor Flor without real exposition.

As we spend so much time with Vadinho, we get to know little about Flor. We can see her frustration with her husband’s ways but we don’t find much more than that, so she remains little more than a long-suffering housewife.

I can’t overstate how tedious so much of this feels, as Husbands beats us over the head with Vadinho’s general jerkiness. I guess the filmmakers figured we needed nearly an hour of this material to really absorb how poorly Vadinho treats Flor, but I disagree, as we get the point quickly and don’t need to see so much evidence of his awfulness.

It doesn’t help that Husbands paints Vadinho as thoroughly reprehensible. We don’t get a lovable rake, but instead we find a thieving, lying, wife-beating, narcissistic sociopath.

Sure, Vadinho occasionally makes an effort to act like a good husband, but the bad far outweighs the good. Of course, plenty of women stick with horrible mates, but I get the feeling the movie wants us to bond with Vadinho to at least a moderate degree, whereas that becomes impossible due to the intensity of his selfishness and callousness.

Once the story finally moves on around the one-hour mark, Flor remains oddly stuck in the background. Husbands then focuses on Teodoro, so Flor remains a supporting role in her own movie.

Just as the film used too much screen time to develop the obvious truth of Vadinho’s toxic behavior, it also goes on and on and on with its depiction of what a snoozer Teodoro is. We get this quickly, so we don’t need so much cinematic real estate to convince us that Teodoro provides a boring dude.

Vadinho’s ghost – a prime plot selling point here – doesn’t even enter the film until 95 minutes into this 110-minute film. This feels bizarre and misguided, as it makes no sense that the story’s quirky love triangle receives so little exploration.

Even when this happens, the plot seems misguided. Should we feel pleased that a jerk like Vadinho re-enters Flor’s life? I was happier when he was just dead and gone.

Again, the story would work better if Husbands simply made Vadinho out to be irresponsible but still likable and caring. Since we see him as nothing more than an abusive, self-centered lout, we find no reason to embrace his spectral re-emergence.

Sure, we know Flor can find a guy more engaging than boring old Teodoro. However, the movie seems to believe only extremes exist, so we’re supposed to support her continued connection to Vadinho just because that relationship enjoyed a passion absent from her marriage to Teodoro.

Honestly, I can’t figure out why Husbands became such a sensation in the 1970s. Tedious, misguided and just plain pointless, the movie turns into a dud.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio D+ (5.1) B- (2.0)/ Bonus C+

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect an inconsistent image.

Sharpness became one of the iffy spots, as the movie seemed less than precise. Granted, it never became truly soft, but it also failed to deliver especially strong delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt reasonable, but a lot of print flaws popped up, as I witnessed specks, nicks, blotches, and lines through a lot of the movie. A fair amount of the film escaped without damage, but I still found many defects.

Colors looked bland and washed out. The movie’s palette leaned toward aqua and yellow, but the tones came across as so dull that they lacked any vivacity.

Blacks tended to seem murky, while shadows appeared a bit dim. I thought the image appeared good enough for a “C-“, but just barely, as I easily could’ve put it in “D” territory.

Husbands gets a DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix here, one that will either delight or annoy. I fell into the latter category due to the bizarrely “in your face” nature of the soundscape.

Mastered at a high level, the audio became much more prominent than necessary or desired for a character film like this. Not only did the soundfield spread music all around the room in an unbalanced manner, but also it went bonkers with effects.

Gentle wind sounded like a tornado, and even quietly cooking food bubbled and crackled like a five-alarm blaze. The soundfield felt completely over the top and out of whack for a movie like this.

So why did I say that the mix might delight? Because some people might enjoy the super-active use of the soundscape.

I couldn’t stand it, though, so I bailed after about 15 minutes and switched to the much more reasonable PCM 2.0 stereo track. This replicated the original and made much more sense for the movie.

Don’t expect a lot from the stereo presentation, as the mix largely sounded monaural. Still, music broadened to the sides in a gentle manner, and some ambient effects created a modest sense of environment. The soundfield didn’t do much but at least it didn’t batter the viewer ala the crazy 5.1 track.

Audio quality differed for the two, mainly because the 5.1 track seemed so loud and aggressive. Everything about it felt exaggerated, as it appeared those involved amped up treble and bass to sound more “modern”.

The stereo track became substantially more natural. Speech showed some iffy looping but still remained fairly concise, with only a little edginess at times.

Music boasted reasonable pep and range, while effects felt wholly adequate, as they demonstrated acceptable accuracy. Though the mono mix showed its age/origins, it still proved much more enjoyable than the overly loud and abrasive 5.1 track.

A few extras appear here, and we open with an audio commentary from director Bruno Barreto. He provides a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, sets and locations, cast and performances, music, editing and censorship, photography, costumes, and the movie's reception.

Barreto covers a good array of topics and offers a mix of nice insights about the movie. However, he goes MIA far too often, so I suspect the commentary only covers maybe half the film, if that.

Of course, I'll take a good discussion that only spans part of a flick over a dull one that takes up the whole running time. However, the many dead spots make this a frustrating chat.

Behind the Scenes runs seven minutes, 51 seconds and gives us footage from the shoot along with narration about the production and a smattering of remarks from Barreto and actors Sônia Braga and José Wilker. The glimpses from the set dominate and make this a fairly interesting reel.

We get trailers for Husbands, Marquise, L’Innocente and Midaq Alley. We conclude with a booklet that mixes credits, photos and an essay from producer/costume designer Mary Jane Marcasiano. It finishes the set on a positive note.

Back in the 1970s, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands became a major hit, but I fail to figure out why. The movie seems tedious and lacks the character depth it needs to turn into anything compelling. The Blu-ray brings problematic picture and audio as well as a few bonus features. I can’t find much to enchant in this slow, forgettable romantic drama.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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