“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.”T.S. Elliot
We meet Brás de Oliva Domingos on his birthday. He’s sitting at a bar, wearing a tuxedo, on his way to celebrate the life of his father, who has recently passed away. There is blood on his tuxedo. He is 32.
Death looms large in the life of Brás – a fact we are made privy to very early in the time we spend with him. He writes obituaries for a newspaper, describing lives through fondly sculpted memories. His work, though prolific in its own small way, is brimming with character. He describes the life of a famous painter, who had been in love with 274 different women in his life, proof of this being found in the portraits he would make of each lover, every painting carrying the name “Lola”. You know this painter for a fleeting moment, and yet a life has been spread before you, rife with nuance.
He is a master of words – a talent handed down to him from his father – though neither would openly admit this. Brás’ father was a famous writer and in his death, he was to be celebrated – though as cruel fate would have it, this celebration would occur on Brás’ own birthday. As he reads the paper detailing the soiree, he attempts to believe that his father would’ve balked at the suggestion of having the event occur as his son would begin another year of life. Reality says otherwise, however, and Brás is given a rough start to his 32nd birthday.
In short order, we see our hero struggling to stay above water, awash in a sea of memory. His typewriter was a gift from his father. A bad habit picked up from his mother bares his father’s fingerprints, the smoke coming from his favourite brand of cigarette. Throughout our inaugural trip with Brás, these themes of death, family and the attempt to live with and without both swirl until an ending. There is blood on his tuxedo. There is a gun in his face.
Brás dies on the date of his birth – and his story begins.