Title: A Erva do Rato

Also known as:
The Herb of the Rat (English title)

Year: 2008

Genre: Experimental / Drama / Arthouse

Language: Portuguese

Runtime: 80 min

Director: Júlio Bressane & Rosa Dias

Writer: Júlio Bressane & Machado de Assis

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1270631/

A woman falls to the ground when she visits the cemetery, and a man helps her and brings her back to his place. He gives her some herbal tea and begins to read for her. Meanwhile she writes it all down. The man then begins taking photographs of her, and keeps asking her to show more and more in front of the camera. A rat then starts visiting frequently, something the man doesn't like because it eats his photographs, but the woman finds a new meaning of pleasure thanks to it.

Our thoughts:
Even though I was disappointed by this movie, there is so much in it that I just loved. When I rated it for a forum I gave it a low 6.5/10 (which isn't terribly low) but parts of it are worth so much more than that. The thing that really dragged the movie down for me was that it was just so vague about what it wanted. The first part of the movie really dragged on for way too long and by the end I still don't think all of it was needed. It just didn't work for me and I found myself bored within the first minutes of the movie. Once the movie kicks in and you get in the "mood" of it, it's much better, but that's also because it becomes visually more interesting as well.

Yikes, you could really just read this first paragraph and then leave this page since it pretty much says what the rest of the review will explain. Oh well.. To the story!

After having met at a cemetery, a man and a woman share a cup of tea over at the man's place. They begin a relationship that seems to be built around art. He reads to her and she writes it all down, and then later begin to photograph her. Slowly he gets her to undress more and more in front of the camera, starting with just pulling her skirt up a bit, and ending in completely nudity with legs spread open and everything. He develops the photos and goes through them with her and all seems fine. Until a rat visits. It bites big holes in the photos and becomes fond of the woman from the photos. Eventually it visits her in bed and pleasures her in ways no man ever could.

To go further into the movie would ruin it all. You could say that telling you about the rat is even a bit much, but it honestly isn't. The important thing about this movie isn't in the plot, it's in the atmosphere, the visuals, the acting, the music, the meaning... whatever that might be. I honestly don't know. That along with the very boring first part of the movie is what makes me rate this movie as low as I did. Sometimes I read what other people say about a movie if I find myself completely lost, but that's hard when you barely find a single review. I will have to watch the movie again down the road and see if it opens my eyes, but for now I will have my focus on the artistic values. And that's fine. Who knows, maybe that's the point of the movie too? It very well could be.

The woman, played by Alessandra Negrini, is beautiful. Every scene of her being photographed in the nude is beautiful. Even though the scenes aren't very explicit, we get to see the developed photographs in all their close-up glory. The scenes involving the rat are strangely erotic. Not so much that I had my hand down my pants, but there was definitely something there. Finally, as I mentioned, the music was also an important part of the movie because there's not very much talking. Overall, it's a treat for the artistic senses.

"A Erva do Rato" could have been a much better movie but I find it hard to say bad things about it because it's something different. It felt like it really knew what it was doing and wasn't just weird for the sake of being weird. On a purely artistic level I really dug the movie, but my overall experience was a bit too long and said too little. I hope I will find a meaning behind this story some day, or at least some other interpretations of it, because maybe then it will go from good to great.

Positive things:
- It knows what it wanted to do.
- Some really stunning shots.
- A great film on purely artistic levels.
- Alessandra Negrini.
- Sometimes it becomes humorous with its serious tone.
Negative things:
- Didn't really say anything.
- The first part was just confusing and boring to me.
- Could've been much better.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 3.5/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 2/5
Comedy: 2/5

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