Three Summers (Sandra Kogut, Brazil/France) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Caitlin Quinlan 

Celebrated Brazilian actor Regina Casé shines as Madá, the industrious, enterprising housekeeper for a wealthy Rio family in Sandra Kogut’s warmly affecting Three Summers. Each December from 2015 to2017, Kogut’s film checks in on Madá and her co-workers at a condominium owned by Mr. Edgar and Ms. Marta, the disengaged, too-rich-for-their-own-good married couple who spend their southern hemisphere summers at this holiday home. Kogut’s script allows gentle comedy to seep into her observations of the resilience of those working in the service of others. Her approach is methodical, her camera patient, as the cycles of life repeat and go on despite an environment of fragility and decline. 

By the second of these three summers, the criminal investigation into widespread corruption known as Operation Car Wash has taken over Brazil, with Mr. Edgar gravely implicated. While police agents scour the property, Madá and the others, with their uncertain futures and lost paychecks, take matters into their own resourceful hands. Here is corruption, as always, trickling down to affect those who least deserve it. But here also are Madá and the gang, maybe now in control of more than they ever have been in this house and in their work. Rounding off the film with a New Year’s Eve celebration is perhaps on the nose, but the hopeful tone of a refreshed start for the employees is undeniably satisfying.

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