Elena.  Rating:  3 (out of 5).  Elena, a young woman, moves from Brazil to New York in hopes of becoming a film actress. She keeps in touch with her family, including her younger sister Petra, through calls and letters, which one day trailed off, and then one day stopped entirely. Decades later, Petra heads to New York to search for her own destiny, and tries to look for her older sister. Watch for the documentary on VOD starting Tuesday, September 9. The Hollywood Reporter writes, “This haunting and dreamlike cinematic essay is filmmaking at its most personal.”

Starring: Elena Andrade, Petra Costa
Director: Petra Costa
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Biography, Drama, Family, Documentary




Chicago Reader notes, “This impressionistic documentary by her younger sister, Petra, uses druggy home-video footage to tell Elena’s sad story, though it’s less a portrait than a memory play, with the director pondering in voice-over how the loss has shaped her.”

Los Angeles Times thinks, “The result is a type of cinematic performance art, with all the self-consciousness that suggests — a sibling love story that’s no less heartfelt for being in the form of a first-person poem.”

The Wall Street Journal notes, “Mysterious and hermetic, this memoir is a collage of home movies, photographs, audio recordings and lyrical narration that reframes a troubled family history through a heartbroken lens.”

The Hollywood Reporter writes, “This haunting and dreamlike cinematic essay is filmmaking at its most personal.”

The New York Times says, “With its free-floating imagery, “Elena” unfolds like a cinematic dream whose central image is water, which symbolizes the washing away of grief. But more than that, it represents the stream of life, with beautiful images of women floating through time.”

The Village Voice thinks, “A pained and gorgeous summoning, Petra Costa’s haunted doc Elena dances with death, memory, and family, seducing viewers and then breaking their hearts.”

The Globe and Mail notes, “Elena is at once a portrait, an autobiography and a history of family trauma.”

Movie Mezzanine says, “Elena stands firmly in the burgeoning movement of documentaries that seek artistic viability even as they rearrange reality. It’s a trend that’s encouraging to see, and while it missteps, that’s a natural side effect of experimentation. Petra Costa will have more great stories to tell going forward.”

IndieWire notes, “Costa may not be detail-oriented when it comes to the minutiae of her sister’s biography, but when it comes to creating emotional portraiture, she’s exhaustive.”

IndieWire (The Playlist) writes, “The result is a mesmerizing, artful and emotional piece of filmmaking that consistently surprises and awes in its sensitivity and (as Herzog would say) ecstatic truths.”

RogerEbert.com thinks, “What began in beautiful, intriguing fashion ends up feeling surprisingly dull. It also reveals how deeply insular Costa’s tale is. The sisters’ stories begin to overlap and blur in a way that’s meant to be profound, but, ultimately, both women remain elusive.”

Film Journal International says, “Fellow Brazilian Carine Adler’s debut narrative film, Under the Skin (1997), about a young woman whose life unravels after her mother’s demise, provides an especially original depiction of the feminine quest. Elena adds another assured and courageous voice.”

According to Slant Magazine, “This is a film about the invisible things passed down from generation to generation, that nasty inheritance that cages us into patterns and puzzles we try to solve in someone else’s name.”

PlaybackSTL thinks, “Elena is a poetic, impressionistic documentary (in fact, it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen recently) combining new footage with home movies and other archival materials to take you inside Petra’s mind so you experience her memories and her search for her own identity firsthand.”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


HereisTV Newsletter

TV and VOD Picks delivered fresh to your inbox, everyday!

What I’m Watching



New on VOD