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TIFF Capsule Review: ‘Once Upon a Time Was I, Veronica’

TIFF Capsule Review: 'Once Upon a Time Was I, Veronica'

Life on one street in the sprawling Brazilian metropolis of Recife was explored as a microcosm of Brazil in Kleber Mendonça Filho’s masterful “Neighboring Sounds” earlier this year. The feature “Once Upon a Time Was I, Veronica,” from director Marcelo Gomes, is also set in Recife, though this character study is more narrowly focused than “Sounds.” It follows the titular protagonist (Hermila Guedes) as she starts working at a hospital after years of medical school and finds that treating patients isn’t quite as thrilling as she believed it would be. But that’s far from her only worry, as her aging father isn’t well and Veronica has a hard time committing to her sort-of boyfriend, to whom she’s physically attracted but with whom she’s perhaps not quite in love, though her father would like her to be. As a portrait of emotional stasis, “Veronica” is at once specific and universal, with Gomes sticking close to his protagonist in order to get under her skin and Guedes delivering a beautifully shaded performance as a doctor who treats others but is herself adrift in a confusing sea of loneliness. Criticwire grade: B+ [Boyd van Hoeij]

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