Elena | Chicago Reader

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82 minutes · 2012

Elena Costa was a 20-year-old Brazilian beauty who followed her dream of success as an actress and dancer to New York City; defeated and depressed, she killed herself there in December 1990. 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. "If I can't be an artist, better to die," Elena declared at one point, though after she commits suicide and Petra herself begins to struggle with depression, the movie becomes a defiant reversal of that sentiment, an act of creation in the face of death. In Portuguese with subtitles.

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