The Edge of Democracy (2019)

edge of democracy poster 2019 movie
8.5 Overall Score

Thoughtful cautionary tale

Being outside of the culture presented makes it harder to judge

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Edge of Democracy

Studio: Busca Vida Filmes

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s):  January 24, 2019 (Sundance)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

edge of democracy lula dilma rousseff election brazil

We’re on top of the world!!!

Brazil is in political turmoil that has divided the country.  The popular President Lula and his successor Dilma Rousseff have been accused of taking bribes and face impeachment and criminal charges.  The country’s once great economy has fallen and divided country has turned on their former leader and leader.  Meanwhile, Jair Bolsonaro is making waves as an alternative to the old leadership…but will it bring about peace or divide the country even more?

Directed by Petra Costa, The Edge of Democracy (Democracia em Vertigem) is a Brazilian political documentary.  The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released on Netflix.  It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The world in general is facing a lot of political turmoil.  The United States had an impeachment and the trial that followed it (leading to an acquittal).  Watching The Edge of Democracy, I see a lot of similarities between the events in Brazil and the United States…and even other parts of the world.

edge of democracy documentary brazil protests lula effigy

…and now everyone is against him

I will say that I have a hard time judging The Edge of Democracy.  It presents a story that is very pro-Lula and pro-Dilma.  Petra Costa is personally involved with both people and her past mirrors a lot of what led to Lula’s election.  I didn’t grow up in Brazil, and I have less of the story than Costa.  While Bolsonaro seems like a really unlikable guy who is potential trouble, it also seems that (right or wrong), Lula did potentially take some bribes like the apartment.  Costa paints Lula as pretty innocent, so the lines between truth and fiction are a bit blurry as an outsider.

Petra inserts herself into the narrative of the documentary and that gives it a bit of a more personal touch than many documentaries that just “state the facts”.  Petra’s parents were revolutionaries who fought against the dictatorship, but much of her family was engrained in Brazil (and Brasilia’s creation).  This puts them on opposite sides of the fence (quite literally at points).

edge of democracy jair bolsonaro election

Yeah…he kind of seems like a tool

The documentary is quite tricky to watch.  Petra fills it with documentary style interviews but also with many sweeping drone shots.  It is subtitled and while this in general isn’t a problem, there is so much going on in the political intrigue that it is just one more thing to try pay attention to while trying to figure out the path to impeachment and where Brazil stands today.

The Edge of Democracy is about Brazil, but it could be about so many countries today.  The Left and the Right seem to be at unstoppable odds that are growing farther and farther apart.  For Brazil, in Petra’s portrayal, the “villain” already won…the rest of the world hangs in the balance as countries draw battle lines which seems like moving backwards instead of forwards.

Related Links:

The 92nd Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response