An uninhibited lifestyle of mischief comes to a halt for Karol (Mateusz Nedza) when he receives a call from Bruna (Bruna Massarelli) about their expectant child. The pregnancy comes as a surprise to both of them after a one-night-stand and Bruna arrives back to her home in São Paulo, Brazil. Angry but still taking responsibility for this new chapter, Karol relocates to Brazil to prepare with Bruna, but also to be a loyal parent – unlike his own father.
With Man Proposes, God Disposes, writer/director Daniel Leo has created a really interesting, sometimes unnecessarily stylized character study about Karol – a man who wants to make the right decisions despite feeling as if he’s swimming upstream. Karol’s main flaw is that he’s responsible for each new challenge he faces. He has a short temper which doesn’t bode well for a new relationship but, as someone who is trying to fit in to a new homestead, he’s triggered by the constant reminders of belonging issues. The struggling relationship between him and Bruna is paingstainkinly realistic as their defensive personalities clash, but they also find authentic chemistry through their dedication and adamancy to make this commitment work. Karol is developed a little more than Bruna, but both actors do a terrific job characterizing their material.
Man Proposes, God Disposes has a music video-esque aesthetic to it. It’s a stylistic choice that sometimes compliments the film’s fantastic establishing shots and the uncontrollable nature of the story just as much as it proves to be detrimental to important footnotes in Karol and Bruna’s new life. A poignant montage showcasing the ever-changing dynamic in their relationship is great, but this momentum fumbles over some clumsily clipped edits in the third act.
Considering this is an all-around first crack at directing and screenwriting for photographer Daniel Leo, Man Proposes, God Disposes features some impressive and exciting filmmaking. The shortened segments may be Leo believing that “less is more” which, sometimes, is true. Hopefully with his next feature, he finds the confidence to expand on important information. But for now, he should be very proud of this debut.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie