Guida (Julia Stockler) and Euridice (Carol Duarte) are sisters deeply devoted to one another in 1950s Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Guida is adventurous and sneaks out at night to meet boys, begging her sister to cover for her. Euridice is a skilled pianist and hopes to attend the conservatory in Vienna someday.
When Guida runs off to Greece with a sailor, her family is left reeling and worried.
Later that year, Euridice marries Antenor (Gregorio Duvivier) and moves to another part of Rio De Janiero.
When Guida returns pregnant and unmarried, her father shuns her, sending her away. Her father doesn’t correct Guida when she assumes Euridice is in Vienna, Austria.
Two sisters now live in the same city, but are lifetimes apart. As the years unfold, the sisters, lonely and longing, write letters to one another, revealing their thoughts and feelings in the hopes of one day reuniting, but as they use their parents as intermediaries, the letters never reach their destinations.
“Invisible Life” is an outstanding film. It speaks of societal norms (of the 1950s), of cultural norms and how that affects families and lives.
Guida and Euridice both feel cloistered by their father. Yet, Guida shrugs off potential consequences to run off with a sailor to Greece. Euridice marries traditionally, but is unhappy when her husband cares little for her hopes of one day attending a music conservatory.
Director Karim Ainouz beautifully contrasts life in 1950s Rio De Janiero with universal themes of love and family, loss and tradition. Both Guida and Euridice long to leave home and live fulfilling lives, but that just isn’t the reality of life. Guida struggles to make ends meet, but finds friendship and purpose in motherhood and values her friendships – cobbling together a sustainable life. Euridice struggles with her compromised hopes as her husband wallows in the traditional role of bread-winner, while Euridice is expected to be the domestic help and sex partner.
Both must endure their shattered dreams alone because of a selfish decision by their father. Blaming this situation on the societal norms and traditions of the time is only part of the problem, their father and mother could have revealed their lies later as the girls matured into women, but their silence damns them to blame.
Screenwriter Murilo Hauser captures the sadness, the longing and heartbreak as these two sisters are kept apart for no reason other than a family’s reputation. The beauty and simplicity of life in Rio De Janiero is wonderfully contrasted with emotional disillusionment as Guida and Euridice struggle with their lives and loss of one another.
Euridice’s music is an important backdrop to the narrative, framing her feelings and her longing, not to mention the ironic nature of a talented concert pianist reprimanded by her husband for having a dream to play her music.
“Invisible Life” is a beautifully lyrical look at the pain and consequences of loss and the enduring strength of the human spirit.