Starring: Luciano Pedro Jr., Jules Elting, Matheus Nachtergaele, and Clara Pinheiro
Written by: Sergio Oliveira, Leo Pyrata, and Renata Pinheiro
Directed by: Renata Pinheiro
“I Am The Driver! I Am The Luminous Headlights of The Universe!”
I had heard a lot of things about King Car before I watched it.
I, too, had read a lot of things about King Car before I watched it. How it evoked the spirit of George Miller and how it kept it’s eye focused on ecological and social ills, providing incendiary, familiar texture to it’s horror.
But even with that ad-hoc research, absolutely none of that prepared me for the act of actually WATCHING the goddamn thing. For what a heady, incredibly weird, and shockingly horny movie it ended up being. I feel as if I would have loved this even without all that. But with it…man, did this thing just open up in entirely bold and broad ways for me. Both as a viewer AND critic.
Forgive me, I am getting ahead of myself. Because for all it’s weirdness and theatrical choices, the film actually comes to the table with a disarmingly simple premise. Young Uno (a wide-eyed and sweet Luciano Pedro Jr.) was literally born in a car. A car belonging to his father’s fleet of taxis.
But as Uno grows into adolescence, he discovers a hidden power. He can TALK to cars. Not only that, but they can talk to him BACK. After the death of his mother, in the very same same car he was born in and his first automotive conversation, Uno turns his back on his father’s business. Opting instead to learn agriculture and reforestation at a local college.
However, upon discovering his powers, Uno’s father and uncle turn them toward the goal of updating their taxi fleet. Transforming the once normal sedans into talking, scheming, and immensely horny talking machines. Hellbent on “updating” the human race and isolating Uno as their mechanized messiah. All while pumping their new followers full of a powerful “blue” gasoline and demanding bigger and badder looking car frames to transform.
Better still, this isn’t even the TIP of the iceberg in terms of King Car’s weirdness. And while Pinheiro’s camerawork and co-written script keeps things fairly down-to-earth, the detailing and worldbuilding peppered throughout keep the strangeness factor steadily increasing.
Regrettably, some of King Car is a little tonally jumbled. Uno’s uncle Ze in particular is…a truly odd character. As the actor, a game and unafraid Matheus Nachtergaele, talks, moves, and even howls. Like a chimpanzee. No explanation given. Nor any real narrative reasoning. The result of which ends up between parody and brazen. But I am still not sure which it actually is.
But what I DO KNOW is that King Car is a bizarro triumph. A film that mixes genres with a wild confidence, while also keeping it’s self wholly focused on doing its own thing. Operating with it’s own tone, timbre, and DIY execution. If you want to take that ride with it, then it’s happy to have you along. But if you don’t? Well, then you don’t really need to be in the road, do you? Just don’t go into King Car expecting Mad Max. Go in expecting David Cronenberg’s Crash.
THAT is where King Car’s rubber truly meets the road.