Review: ‘Neon Bull’ follows rodeo worker’s aspirations

Tom Long
The Detroit News

A gritty, meandering slice-of-life drama about unlikely aspiration and unavoidable perspiration, “Neon Bull” goes nowhere in particular but does describe a lifestyle few would opt for.

Iremar (Juliano Cazzare) works in Brazil helping to wrangle, feed and transport bulls. These bulls are used in rodeos where two men on horseback try to bring the animal down by grabbing its tail. Needless to say, serious animal lovers are going to find these proceedings a bit disturbing.

Apparently this goes on. Iremar is part of a mobile work-family of sorts, all of whom live and sleep in the truck that transports the bulls. Suddenly every dorm room ever seems opulent.

Included in the family are the corpulent Ze (Carlos Pessoa), the sexy driver Galega (Maeve Jinkings) and her young daughter Caca (Alyne Santana). As a group they fight, they dance, they feed the bulls, they sand their tails (all the better to grab onto) and don’t shower much.

But Iremar has dreams, and talent, that goes beyond this. He wants to be a fashion designer. In fact he designs and sews outfits for Galega, who performs at exotic clubs while wearing a horse’s mask over her head.

Director-writer Gabriel Mascaro can lean toward the surreal at times, then double back to stark reality. The first time we see Galega dancing beneath her horse’s head there’s no indication what’s going on. Ditto with a scene in which a man lies down with a horse and then proceeds to massage it. Huh?

But most of the movie is poking bulls, blaring rodeo announcers, time spent in the back of the truck as the bulls are moved from point A to point B. Not exactly riveting stuff, but the stuff of a dusty, impoverished life.

Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.

“Neon Bull”

Grade: C

Not rated

Running time: 101 minutes