Brazilian filmmaker Julia Murat’s ‘Rule 34’ is a drama exploring the complexities of personal freedom and societal norms. Released in 2023, the film has garnered attention for its portrayal of a young law student’s journey through the murky waters of sexual liberation and justice advocacy.
Synopsis and Structure
A narrative woven into a series of short episodes, ‘Rule 34‘ centers on Simone, a 23-year-old law student played by Sol Miranda, who champions women’s rights by day and performs in front of a live sex cam by night. Her dual existence leads her down a path where the quest for sexual gratification intertwines with violence and eroticism.
Thematic Exploration of ‘Rule 34’
At its core, ‘Rule 34’ is a study of gender dynamics and the exercise of power in both personal and societal contexts. The film explores the realms of body and community politics, using Simone’s online sexual encounters and her professional engagements with victims of abuse as parallel narratives. These storylines also present a critical examination of BDSM practices, female empowerment, and the systemic challenges faced by women in Brazil.
Moreover, the film raises questions about the control and consumption of pornography, the perpetuation of oppression, and the balance between sexual autonomy and social justice. Through its narrative, ‘Rule 34’ invites viewers to reflect on the line separating personal choices from societal constraints.
Film’s Origins and Development
‘Rule 34’ is the collaborative efforts of Julia Murat, Gabriela Capello, Rafael Lessa, and Roberto Winter. Filming occurred in 2020, with the project overcoming financial struggles thanks to a €35,000 grant from the Gothenburg Film Festival’s Audiovisual Fund in July 2021. Stemming from an initiative by the Swedish government to protect global democracy, this support was instrumental in bringing Murat’s vision to life.
Festival Circuit and Recognition
‘Rule 34’ premiered at the 75th Locarno Film Festival on August 10, 2022, where it earned the Golden Leopard for Best Film. The movie’s festival journey included screenings at the 27th Busan International Film Festival and the 28th Kolkata International Film Festival. The theatrical releases followed in Brazil on January 19, 2023, through Imovision, and in France on June 7, 2023, via Wayna Pitch.
‘Rule 34’s Critical Reception
Critics have offered various perspectives on ‘Rule 34.’
Swiss journalist Michael Sennhauser praised the film’s playfulness and provocative nature, noting the significance of a female director at its helm.
Screen Daily’s Neil Young called it a ‘fascinating and ambitious third feature’ and lauded Sol Miranda’s ‘strong central performance’ as a black woman navigating Rio de Janeiro. However, Young also pointed out the ‘stylistically conventional’ cinematography by Leo Bittencourt, suggesting that the film’s themes may have been better served by a more visually dynamic approach.
You can watch the trailer below.