REVIEW: ‘Carnaval,’ is a Rough Ride, With A Strong Finish

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Carnaval

Carnaval is a Netflix original Comedy starring Giovana Cordeiro. Nina is an aspiring Instagram influencer who dreams of a follower count in the millions. When she gets invited to Salvador for Carnaval, it looks like this could be her big break. Accompanied by her three closest friends, Nina sets out to take the Instagram world by storm. But along the way, she’ll have to decide what is truly important to her in life.

For the bulk of Carnaval’s hour and a half run time, the viewer follows Nina (Cordeiro) and her friends as they attempt to move through a world of glitz and glamour they are only semi-supposed to be taking part in. While Nina is a big enough influencer to get them invited to this huge Carnaval celebration, she isn’t a VIP either. The first half of the film sees the group of friends sneaking into VIP parties, meeting celebrities, and generally making fools of themselves along the way.

This outlandish foolery is the heart of Carnaval’s comedic aspect. If you enjoy people getting into awkward drunken arguments, failing to pass themselves off as VIPs at swanky parties, and making fools of themselves as they are reduced to tongue-tied messes meeting celebrities, the humor here will be something you can enjoy. If the above form of embarrassment humor isn’t for you, the bulk of the fun in this movie isn’t going to land.

While the first half of Carnaval is pure comedy, the tone of the movie shifts in the back half a lot. While comedic moments are still present, the narrative takes a more serious look at Nina, what her drive for more followers begins to push her to, and what is ultimately most important to her in her life.

While the tonal change in the back half of the story surprised me with just how far from the comedic the narrative travels, it is nevertheless delivered well. While Cordeiro does a solid job carrying the bulk of this shift, several other cast members do their parts in selling the deeper emotional messages of the movie’s final act.

The visual presentation of Carnaval is everything one would expect of glitzy parties and festival atmospheres all played out in front of a beautiful South American backdrop.  There is a ton of energy permeating the scenes of this movie, which helps it to move on after one of its many awkward comedic moments.

This energy is best on display when the four women actually step away from all the glitz and glamour and are given a tour of the city. Street foods, lots of Latin music, and even Capoeira demonstrations fill this sequence. The down-to-earth genuineness of these moments is a highlight of the movie.

When I look back at Carnaval I find myself with mixed feelings. While the humor never made me left me outright laughing, there are some truly enjoyable moments, coupled with a strong ending that manages to land its message about what things are truly important in life.

Carnaval is streaming now on Netflix.

Carnaval
7.5/10

TL;DR

When I look back at Carnaval I find myself with mixed feelings. While the humor never made me left me outright laughing, there are some truly enjoyable moments, coupled with a strong ending that manages to land its message about what things are truly important in life.