Follow All Protocols unites sex and Covid depression – 30/06/2022 – Illustrated

The pandemic is not over yet. But we already have some hindsight to note with some incredulity – even fun – our disorientation in the face of the Covid-19. Laugh, even if you’re nervous, at our stupid initial preventative hygiene practices in front of people or even shopping in the “new normal”.

“Following All Protocols”, by Fábio Leal, from Pernambuco, highlights the period of peak fear of the virus, with vaccines still scarce, when people did not know how long hell would last.

To the zeal when disinfecting supermarket items was added the panic of leaving the house and the mask not being tight enough. Not to mention the eagerness not to go crazy alone at home.

Several of these practices appear in the film, arousing different and simultaneous reactions in the viewer. On the one hand, everything seems familiar to us. On the other hand, Leal’s film imposes itself as a slyly balanced narrative, both laughable and suffocating.

There is something that gives us the impression that we are not dealing with something that happened months ago. It’s more like a comedic, cynical, improbable dystopia created by a filmmaker with perversely inventive ideas.

The film shows Chico, a middle-class boy, who lives alone in his apartment and is desperate for lack of sex during isolation. He tries to solve this problem in a safe way – first, for the pornography; then for a virtual relationship. However, they are not the same as body contact.

He decides to research safe ways to have an orgasm in someone’s presence and truly follows “all the protocols”. First, with a former lover, who in the pandemic became proletarian and had to become a food delivery man. And then, with a doctor, a professional category which, in Chico’s eyes, tends to protect themselves better against the coronavirus.

Chico is pragmatic – even rejecting exaggerated praise from a partner in post-coital arousal. But there is a certain spirit of fantasy in the character (especially at the end), and his compulsion not to contaminate himself reveals that he carries within him a “drive for life” perhaps even more obsessive.

He could be a rather boring character, in his strictness with himself and with others, but the way Leal converts it all into humor redeems him and brings him closer to the viewer.

The climax of the film is the sex scene between Chico and the delivery man, which starts off hilarious, due to the exaggeration of the preventive measures, but which later acquires an erotic texture, with curtains and masks preventing direct contact from body to body – intensification of desire.

The actors contribute to the success of the film. Fellow filmmaker Marcus Curvelo, who brings Chico’s virtual lover to life, may be exaggerating a bit in his cheerfulness, but it’s this counterpoint that makes his scenes so funny. Paulo César Freire, on the other hand, has a healthy restraint and a sweet romanticism like the delivery boy. And, as the crooked doctor, Lucas Drummond achieves every nuance — and, when he takes off his mask, he shows he has the most photogenic smile to appear in national cinema since Barbaric colen presented us his, in “Aquarius”.

But the highlight is Leal himself. As the hypochondriac Chico, he takes advantage of his own bulk and comedic timing to elevate the potential of each scene – extrapolating the pandemic, as his satirical take on identity issues evokes boldness and sarcasm. She shows the body shamelessly, in a mixture of narcissism and political position, presenting a non-normative physicality as deserving of pleasure.

Leal talks about loneliness, the internet as salvation, different points of view on the rules to follow. It also deals with fear of the future, underemployment in the pandemic crisis. And, of course, the tragedy of the deaths in the country, with the news pouring out presidential indifference to all the chaos. In just over an hour, the film manages to be the most comprehensive made to date on the pandemic.

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