As shallow as its influencer subject matter, Carnaval isn’t overflowing with depth. It’s the kind of goofy, silly rom com that’s ideal for looking at a bunch of pretty people and being moderately amused with their antics. For better or worse, Carnaval feels like a true modern era social media era rom com.
Nina (Giovana Cordeiro) is a mid-level influencer. She’s making some moves and has some level of status, but she’s eager to cross the true milestone of an influencer by cracking one million Instagram followers. Ironically, Cordeiro actually has 1.1 million Instagram followers.
A bad breakup leads to Nina becoming a meme gaining her some social media sympathy and notoriety. The best way to get over it isn’t by meeting a rebound guy. Nah, Nina has bigger plans of boosting her follower count.
She gets the opportunity by getting an invitation to an influencer event at Bahia’s Carnival held by pop star Freddy Nunes (Micael).
But what fun is traveling to Carnival alone? Nina gets her pals — Mayra (Bruna Inocencio), geek aficionado Vivi (Samya Pascotto) and dude crazy Michelle (Gessica Kayane) — to tag along for drinks, likes and crazy moments.
The setup has some similarities to Ibiza with the girls partying wild premise although Ibiza was far more polished production and performance wise.
Director Leandro Neri has the carefree Carnival atmosphere down with wild parties, a ton of alcohol and plenty of thongs and chiseled abs.
Nina makes a quick connection with the charismatic tour guy Salvador (Jean Pedro). Salvador would make a good catch if he cared about his social media status. Good thing Nina can get tips from her role model, the influencer icon Luana (Flavia Pavanelli). And if she catches Freddy’s eye, even better for raising her follower count.
Carnaval is Nina’s journey to self-reflection and the fickle nature of social media, but her girls get decent supporting character arcs. Mayra is terrified of large crowds and the script does a good job of not making someone with anxiety issues come off like a weirdo.
Vivi probably has the best mini-arc as she blows off chiseled dudes since they can’t pass her pop culture test. Michelle is the weakest character when she’s on dude hunting mode. She serves a better role in calling Nina out on her crap as she prioritizes status over friends.
Nina’s thirst for followers is a very contemporary premise. The script does a good job of mocking influencer culture without being overly mean-spirited.
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There’s an English language dub, but the voices comically don’t sound anything like the actors look. This can create a disconnect with the performances, which are generally fine.
The performers get the quirks and charms of their characters. The best option here is to watch the film with its original Brazilian audio track with English subtitles.
Four screenwriters are credited for the script, which seems excessive given the mostly predictable approach with the characters.
There are a couple of decent twists that help shake things up. Neri does a commendable job of not making the biggest twist too obvious while laying the breadcrumbs throughout.
It’s too bad Neri takes a relatively easy way to wrap it as it doesn’t justify the characters’ concern over the fallout.
Another subplot explores the high cost of being an influencer with an imbalance of what’s an idealized presentation vs. reality.
Carnaval could have done more with a deeper probe of its subplots. This would have elevated the film beyond something nice to look at for the moment.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix