review for Brazil on AllMovie

Brazil (1985)
by Matthew Doberman review

Director Terry Gilliam's comic fantasy-nightmare portrays a future in which Big Brother is definitely watching. The film suggests no particular time, boasting a retro style that gives it an ominous timelessness. Like Ridley Scott's Blade Runner or Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Brazil succeeds precisely because it presents a grimy future with real similarities to the present, where technology and efficiency lead to more, not less, government interference and bureaucracy. Brazil also adds an element of comedy to the mix; some of the zaniest scenes involve Robert DeNiro, playing against type as the hilarious terrorist Harry Tuttle. Visually, the film is a near-psychedelic wonder, with such indelible images as the bleak metropolis that launches from the ground, disrupting the idyllic dreams of unlikely hero Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce). To say Gilliam pulled out all the stops is an understatement -- it seems that every image that popped into his head has found its way into the film. Brazil was criticized by some for going too far, and this lack of restraint does extend to the sometimes hard-to-follow plot. But a little incoherence is a relatively small price to pay for what is otherwise a startlingly imaginative work.