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Karim Aïnouz on Cannes Competition Entry’s ‘Motel Destino,’ Its Joyful Sex and How It Was Made by ‘Almost an Army of Youth’

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John Hopewell Chief International Correspondent Shot between his directing Alicia Vikander in “Firebrand” and Kristen Stewart in “Rosebushpruning,” “Motel Destino,” which bows in Cannes Competition on May 22, can be seen as a return by Brazil’s now most international director to his Brazilian roots.

This axis between international and local, plays out in “Motel Destino” and Aïnouz insists, in now his whole career. An erotic thriller, “Motel Destino” turns on Dayana, the young wife of a roadside sex hotel owner who seduces on-the-run minor mobster Heraldo for great sex.

But she soon conceives the idea of his helping her to kill her terrifyingly abusive older husband. “I was really interested in a kind of Brazilian interpretation of melodrama and noir cinema, how to take genre, which begins in Hollywood, and appropriate it make it local and ours,” Aïnouz tells Variety. “Motel Destino” is melodrama “in the sense these characters that are trying to survive, by any means.” But the film is also “a kind of Equatorial noir,” supplied by “the suspense, the crime element.” So a key to Aïnouz’s take on the world he’s created is where it bends genre, significantly breaking with its inspiration.

That cuts several ways in “Motel Destino,” Aïnouz observes. “Instead of translating suspense through shadows and black and white, color was really, really important.

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