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Empire presents
The Three Marias (As tres Marias) (2002)

"We have a destiny in life. And yours is not to kill."
- Filomena (Marieta Severo)

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: April 27, 2005

Stars: Marieto Severo, Julia Lemmertz, Maria Luisa Mendonca, Luiza Mariani
Other Stars: Carlos Vereza, Enrique Diaz, Tuca Andrada, Wagner Mura
Director: Aluizio Abranches

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for violence, adult themes
Run Time: 01h:24m:43s
Release Date: April 26, 2005
UPC: 843171005227
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BD+D+ D+

DVD Review

Revenge has always been a fruitful topic for storytellers of every stripe, but film adds a visceral thrill to a good tale. The Three Marias (As tres Marias) adds another entry to the ranks of cineamtic vengeance-taking, this time hailing from Brazil. The story is one of frustrated love and its consequences, as Firmino Santos Guerra, spurned by the love of his life, Filomena, takes out his anger by killing her husband and two sons in grisly fashion. Filomena, upon hearing the news, decides to seek bloody vengeance. She may have lost her sons, but she also has three daughters, the women of the title.

After the funeral, Filomena informs her daughters that they are each to seek out a hitman; the hitmen will bring her the heads of Firmino and his two sons, who participated in the killings as well. Maria Francisca, the eldest, is sent to hire Zé das Cobras, who, as you may have surmised from the name, uses snakes to kill, not to mention as a primary food source and clothing style. And he has a really cool name. Maria Rosa is sent after Tenorio, a chief of police who's a whiz with a blade. The youngest, Maria Pia, gets the most deranged of the bunch, Jesuino Cruz, a multiple murderer known to his fans as "The Devil's Horse."

The three women accept their missions, and still in their funeral clothes, drive off to their respective destinations. Before you ask, it is never explained why Filomena has ample knowledge of hitmen in the region, and it really isn't the sort of film where you seriously expect an answer to the question. Anyway. The three women reach their targets, but each finds that things are not so simple. Zé das Cobras is obsessed with the tale of Adam and Eve and consequently refuses to even speak to a woman, forcing the use of an intermediary. Tenorio has been out hunting a rabid dog that has been terrorizing the community, and he has contracted rabies from it. "The Devil's Horse" happens to be in jail.

It should not come as much of a surprise if I tell you that each of the Marias finds their task veering away from any expected conclusion. The idea of destiny is thrown around by Filomena, but she doesn't realize until it's too late that destiny isn't something that can be known ahead of time, if it even exists at all. The characters exist to fulfill the needs of the story rather than illustrate anything by themselves, and the story plays with the standard revenge scenario enough to remain entertaining throughout. The film treads a line between black comedy and grit fairly well, and it has a stylish, colorful look to it.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.25:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Unfortunately, The Three Marias has been done a disservice in terms of presentation. The video quality is very poor, presented as it is in a nonanamorphic print with burnt-in, hard to read white subtitles. The picture quality itself is poor, with faded color and a distinct lack of detail. It looks as if they took an exhibition print and slapped it on the DVD. The subtitles are fairly small, even on a large screen like the one I viewed it on. It is a visually striking picture, so this is very disappointing. It looks like a bad VHS presentation, essentially.

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Portugueseno

Audio Transfer Review: The soundtrack is presented in Dolby 2.0, and the track sounds like it's on the edge of breaking up when the dynamic range gets to be too much. The film makes extensive use of music, and it suffers the most, as the rest of the film is primarily dialogue.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Almost Peaceful, Twilight Samurai, La Vie Promise, Monsieur N
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery: publicity stills and shots from film
Extras Review: Considering the presentation of the film, there would be little reason to expect a bountiful collection of extras. What's here amounts to a brief biography of director Abranches, a small photo gallery comprised of what look to be grainy screen captures and publicity shots, and trailers for this film and four other Empire distributed titles. Nothing here of any real interest.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

The Three Marias is an offbeat, darkly humorous film recommended for those who like a good revenge tale. However, the film is ill-served by a truly sub-par release.


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