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“Toll” – Movie Review by TWiT

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Suellen, a toll booth attendant, realizes she can use her job to raise some extra money illegally. But this is only for a so-called noble cause: to send her son to an expensive gay conversion workshop led by a renowned foreign priest.

Rating: 4
Good Movie!
Great Plot
LGBTQIA Relevance

“Toll” is an intriguing film that skillfully exposes the absurdity of homophobic ideas associated with Brazilian people and the concept of a so-called “cure.” With its visually pleasing cinematography and a narrative that delves into the lives of ordinary citizens, this movie captivates viewers from start to finish. The director/writer’s ability to intertwine multiple storylines seamlessly adds to the overall appeal of this thought-provoking film.

One of the most commendable aspects of “Toll” is its ability to challenge stereotypes and break down societal barriers through the power of visual storytelling. The film provides a glimpse into the everyday lives of average citizens, highlighting their struggles, triumphs, and personal growth. By doing so, it humanizes characters who are often marginalized or misunderstood, fostering empathy and understanding among viewers.

The director’s skillful storytelling techniques allow the audience to connect with the characters on a deeper level. Through their journeys, we witness the impact of homophobia on their lives and the toll it takes on their mental and emotional well-being. This portrayal not only sheds light on the issue but also encourages viewers to question their preconceived notions and biases.

“Toll” stands out for its ability to weave together multiple storylines cohesively and pleasingly. The director/writer expertly intertwines various characters and their experiences, creating a rich tapestry of interconnected lives. This approach adds depth and complexity to the film, allowing for a more comprehensive exploration of the themes at hand.

Each storyline in “Toll” contributes to the overarching narrative, shedding light on different aspects of homophobia and its consequences. From the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals to the impact on families and relationships, the film paints a comprehensive picture of the issue. By presenting these diverse perspectives, the director encourages dialogue and reflection, prompting viewers to question societal norms and prejudices.

Visually, “Toll” is a feast for the eyes. The cinematography is stunning, capturing the vibrant colors and landscapes of Brazil. The attention to detail in each scene adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the film, immersing the audience in the characters’ world. From bustling city streets to serene countryside, the cinematography serves as a backdrop to the characters’ journeys, enhancing the overall viewing experience.

“Toll” is a powerful film that tackles the issue of homophobia in an engaging and thought-provoking manner. Through its visually pleasing cinematography, cohesive narrative, and expert storytelling, the film challenges stereotypes and fosters empathy among viewers. By shedding light on the absurdity of homophobic ideas and the concept of a “cure,” “Toll” encourages dialogue, reflection, and ultimately, positive change. It is a must-watch for anyone seeking a captivating and impactful cinematic experience.

Running Time: 101 mins
Countries of Origin: Brazil, Portugal (In Portuguese with subtitles)

Carolina Markowicz Photo
Director Carolina Markowicz for the movie “Toll” attends the closing ceremony during the 20th Marrakech International Film Festival on December 02, 2023, in Marrakech, Morocco. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

About the Filmmaker: Carolina Markowicz has written and directed 6 short films, which were selected for more than 300 festivals and the recipients of many awards.

The Orphan, her most recognized one, premiered in Cannes Director’s Fortnight in 2018 and won the Queer Palm. Her debut feature, Charcoal, premiered in competition at the Toronto International Film Festival and made its European Premiere at the San Sebastian International Film Festival in 2022.

Her second feature TOLL made its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival 2023, where Markowicz was honored with the TIFF Emerging Talent Award presented by MGM Studios. TOLL made its European Premiere at the San Sebastian International Film Festival in 2023. Markowicz has been a member of AMPAS (The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) since 2021.

About The Film and its Origins: Filmmaker Carolina Markowicz focused on work that is in tune with the current political climate, with it often permeating her work. The things that have happened in Brazil recently have in many ways been unimaginable to the filmmaker.

Brazil is a very conservative and homophobic society, where a minister of human rights, now a senator, stated that kids shouldn’t play with Frozen dolls because the character of Elsa was a lesbian. Another politician publicly said the anus shouldn’t be used for sex because it was “unholy.” The former president of Brazil once said he’d rather have a dead son than a gay one. Markowicz wanted to portray this bizarre obsession with other people’s sexuality in the film.

Markowicz grew up in the countryside, where it was considered there could be nothing worse than being gay. There is a real danger to those who are gay in Brazil now as anti-LGBTQ sentiment grows worldwide.  “TOLL” is a drama permeated with dark, irreverent humor. Along with the central characters Suellen and Tiquinho, the specific tone is a key protagonist of the story. It has a responsibility to put the absurd in its proper place: the current normal.

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