Netflix drama ‘Coisa Mais Linda’ explores Bossa Nova clubs and women’s rights in Brazil

Brazilian TV series Coisa Mais Linda honors the “beauty that comes from the sorrow of being a woman” throughout the late 1950s in Rio De Janeiro.

Coisa Mais Linda
Four stars

 

RELEASE DATE: 3/22/2019
DIRECTOR: Stuart Sender
STREAMING: Netflix
Brazilian TV series ‘Coisa Mais Linda’ follows Maria Luiza as she decides to open a music club in Rio De Janeiro after her husband runs off with a mistress and all their money. The series showcases Rio in the ‘50s, Bossa Nova music, and the resilience of women.

The show follows Maria Luiza (Maria Casadevall), a young rich woman who moves to Rio de Janeiro from São Paulo to open a restaurant with her husband. But upon arrival, she discovers he ran off with a mistress and all their money. Instead of returning home to her parents in São Paulo, Maria Luiza turns her heartbreak into an opportunity to pursue her dream of opening a music club called Coisa Mais Linda that’s welcoming to everyone.

Turquoise hues and golden hour sunbeams define the series’ cinematic aesthetic, and might remind viewers of others ‘60s-era TV series, such as Mad Men. And although the cinematography is absolutely stunning, it’s soundtrack is most memorable. Coisa Mais Linda’s plot centers around the emerging Bossa Nova music scene in Rio. Bossa Nova, as described by the TV show, is the marriage of American jazz with samba rhythms and Portuguese lyrics. The genre was born along the beaches in Rio and became emblematic of fun in the sun and romance. In Coisa Mais Linda, it’s also symbolic of the mixing of cultures, of white and Black Brazilians, and of the upper and lower classes.

Netflix Coisa Mais Linda review Netflix

Because Coisa Mais Linda is a Brazilian TV series, the show was filmed in Portuguese. Netflix offers a variety of lip-dubbed versions, but the English version feels unnatural and awkward. Watch the show in Portuguese with subtitles to get the best viewing experience.

Coisa Mais Linda is set in Brazil before the Citizens Constitution of 1988, which made women equal to men and explores the multitude of struggles women faced in the ‘50s. Maria Luiza, for example, is not allowed to get a liquor license or take out a bank loan for her business because she is a woman. On top of celebrating culture from the late ‘50s in Rio and Bossa Nova, Coisa Mais Linda honors the resilience of women from the time period.

As the lead, Casadevall steers the plot of Coisa Mais Linda with her powerful presence and intense emotional responses to her surroundings—in that way, her performance is reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn. In the wake of heartache, viewers watch Maria Luiza transform from a shattered housewife into Malu, a brave business owner who isn’t afraid to take chances and doesn’t apologize for who she is.

The TV series almost falls into the trap of becoming another series with a white savior mentality. Because Maria Luiza is a rich, white woman, it seems troubling at the beginning of the series when she decides to create a music club for a genre of music she has only just discovered while visiting the Black neighborhoods of Rio. But then Coisa Mais Linda champions Adelia (Pathy Dejesus), an impoverished Black woman who meets Malu by chance when she rescues Malu from a fire she started in her apartment. The two form a friendship and Malu eventually hires Adelia to help open the music club alongside her. Adelia’s background is the opposite of her co-stars; instead of fighting for the right to work, she’s been employed since she was 8, helping her family keep the lights on. Adelia adds a much-needed dose of reality to Mais Cois Linda—even knocking Malu down a peg by reminding her of her privilege to go home to her parents if she fails—and reminds its viewers of the often forgotten sector of Brazil’s population. It’s especially meaningful when Malu proposes Adelia become her partner and receive 50 percent of the club’s profit.

Netflix Coisa Mais Linda review Netflix

Each co-starring woman leaves a significant and compelling impact on the storyline in Coisa Mais Linda. Malu’s childhood best friend, Ligia (Fernanda Vasconcellos) struggles between doing what’s “right” and starting a family with her wealthy yet abusive husband or pursuing her dreams of becoming a famous singer. Meanwhile, Thereza (Mel Lisboa) fights to transform the women’s magazine she writes for, where she is the only woman on staff—all while both ignoring judgment and coping with the fact that she can’t bear children. Adelia is multi-dimensional; she’s not just the token Black friend of Malu who serves as a reminder of the Black community in Rio. She’s also a mother and a lover, caught between the attention from two men. Chico (Leandro Limo) is a stand out among the male cast, as the romantic interest of Malu and talented Bossa Nova musician who introduces Malu to the genre.

Coisa Mais Linda portrays the beauty that can grow from heartache, and how a seemingly tragic ending can actually be the foundation for something even better. In life, people can either see hardship as a stumbling block or as a blessing in disguise—in Coisa Mais Linda, it’s the most beautiful thing.

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Tess Cagle

Tess Cagle

Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.